Know your options after an upper limb injury

By Simon Owen-Johnstoneconsultant orthopaedic surgeon, at London Bridge Hospital

Many of my patients use sport as a way to live a healthy lifestyle and as a release from their busy working lives. Many people I treat are juggling their careers with families, social lives and hobbies they do for enjoyment. For a lot of people, it is important to participate in activities they enjoy as a way to keep fit and maintain a healthy work/life balance. When injuries or strain occur as a result of these activities, it can hinder performance and leave them feeling extremely frustrated.

Lifestyle assesment

As an upper limb and shoulder specialist, I can advise my patients on the best treatment options for them by examining their type of pain. I will look at exactly where the pain is coming from, and what movements and positions make it worse or better. If the pain is a result from a single incident like a sporting injury, I might use an X-ray to check for fractures.

A lot of people assume that if they have injured their arm or shoulder during an accident their best option is to visit A&E and have a cast or sling fitted. This isn’t always the most efficient route to recovery and I always advise my patients to book a consultation to understand the other options available.

Being immobilised can be a massive inconvenience, it can make simple daily activities a struggle and can prevent you from playing sport. After an injury, most people would like to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible. For those who enjoy mountain biking during the summer months, hitting the slopes during the winter and CrossFit in between, non-operative treatment may not be the best option.


I tailor each treatment to suit the patient individually. For example, if someone has fractured their wrist and wishes to resume their sporting activities as soon as possible, surgery can be a good option for quickly restoring lifestyle. Surgery was once something that people feared, and of course it still has risks, but due to modern advancements they have significantly reduced. Modern internal fixation surgery can be the best option to get you back up and running as fast as possible as it requires little recovery time.

During a surgical procedure to fix a fracture, the bone fragments are first repositioned into their normal alignment. They are held together with special implants, such as plates, screws, nails and wires. This type of surgery often allows a patient to leave hospital the same day and return to usual activity in a timely manner. It also reduces the risk of the bones healing incorrectly and in the wrong position.

If you have suffered an upper limb injury, my advice would be to book a consultant meeting in order to discuss the best options available that suits you and your lifestyle. It is best to have knowledge of all the treatments available and create a tailored recovery plan with your consultant.

Contact Mr Simon Owen-Johnstone at London Bridge Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, on 020 3811 7848.