What is a humeral fracture?

A fracture is a break through all or part of the bone. In the shoulder, a fracture usually occurs in the collar bone or in the upper arm bone (humerus).

The humerus may fracture as a result of a fall, blow to the side of the arm or from falling onto an outstretched hand. Confirmation of the fracture is made with an x-ray, although deformity and loss of function may already be evident.

Treatment

Most fractures of the humerus will heal in time with the arm allowed to hang in a collar and cuff sling. Depending on the part of the humerus that has been damaged and the type of injury, a splint (U slab) may be applied to assist with immobilisation of the fractured bone. This may be made of Plaster of Paris or a synthetic material.

Care of your injury

Try to avoid resting on the elbow of the fractured arm as this will cause pain.

At night when in bed, it will be more comfortable to sit in an upright position, allowing the arm to hang down at the elbow, relieving further discomfort.

Correct positioning combined with analgesia prescribed by your doctor may help to reduce the effects of this painful fracture.

Swelling at the fracture site may subside and your cast will then need to be adjusted for comfort. Swelling may also be noted in the forearm. Gentle finger exercises can help to reduce this and help with any stiffness in the fingers.

Care of your cast

Where a U slab splint is applied, care must be taken not to get the cast wet as this can cause rubbing which may result in a sore area under the cast.

If your cast becomes uncomfortable, please contact the Plaster Room for a cast review between 8.30am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. At all other times please attend the A&E Department.

Healing

Healing of upper arm fractures is normally around six weeks, however, this does vary between individuals. A good varied diet will help the healing process.

Attending the fracture clinic for follow-up appointments will allow the doctor to check on the rate of healing of your fracture. It will also enable them to establish any problems that may be preventing healing and identify further treatment options as necessary.

After the bone has healed, physiotherapy may be needed to improve muscle strength and range of movement. You will be referred to a physiotherapist if this is required.

If you have any questions or worries, please contact us

Plaster Room
From 8.30am-4pm
Monday – Friday
01935 384 226

Orthopaedic outpatient reception
From 9am-4pm
Monday – Friday
01935 384 319

Ref: 09-17-120
Review: 01/19