1-38. ARM TRACTION
a. The type of traction used for the upper extremities will depend upon the
location of the fracture, any associated injuries, and the preference of the physician. As
with other body parts, the arm may be immobilized in skin traction or skeletal traction.
The position of the arm in traction may be sidearm or overhead. See figures 1-17 and
1-18. On occasion, the arm may be positioned in extension. This however, will cause
muscle strain and elbow joint discomfort if immobilized in this position for more than a
very short period of time.
b. Nursing care considerations for the patient immobilized in arm traction are the
same as for any other immobilized patient. In addition, the nursing personnel must
observe the following precautions:
(1) Compare the radial pulse on the affected side with the pulse on the
unaffected side. Circulatory impairment must be reported immediately.
(2) Keep the elevated hand in a position of function at all times, and observe
for pressure points at the wrist. Be sure that only the fingertips extend from the sling in
the overhead traction set-up.
Figure 1-17. Side arm traction.
Figure 1-18. Overhead traction.