Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons treating Ankle Misalignment

HUMERUS FRACTURE

A humerus fracture is a break in the lower end of the upper arm bone, one of the three bones that come together to form the elbow joint. A fracture in this area can be very painful and make elbow motion difficult or impossible.

If your child needs surgery or casting, our Fracture Care Clinic opens every day and you do not need an appointment. Surgery rooms get scheduled every morning, so your child receives the care and attention they need right away.

Humerus Fracture

The humerus is the long bone of the upper arm. It extends from the shoulder to the elbow and connects to the ulna and radius bones of the forearm. A humerus fracture refers to a break in this bone. In addition, pain from a humerus fracture often radiates to the shoulder or elbow, depending on the location of the fracture, and may take weeks to heal.

What are the Various Types?

Depending on where the break occurs, the humerus can fracture into one of three different categories:

Proximal

A break in the upper portion of your humerus close to your shoulder is known as a proximal humerus fracture.

Mid-shaft

A break in the center of your humerus is known as a mid-shaft humerus fracture.

Distal

Near your elbow, distal humerus fractures can happen. This kind occasionally involves loose bone fragments and is typically a component of a more serious elbow injury.

What Causes a Humerus Fracture?

A humerus fracture can occur from any serious blow to your arm, although some are more prone to do so than others. For example, falling with an outstretched arm often fractures the shaft and proximal humerus. A distal humerus fracture is more likely to occur during a high-impact incident, such as a vehicle accident or football tackle. Pathologic fractures of the humerus can also occur as a result of a disorder that weakens the bones. This makes your bones more susceptible to breaking during routine tasks that normally provide no risk of injury. The following things can result in pathologic humerus fractures:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone cancer
  • Bone cysts
  • Bone infection

Symptoms of Humerus Fractures

The following are the most typical signs and symptoms of a mid-shaft humerus fracture:

Upper Arm Pain

When a humerus fractures, there is typically intense, continuous pain involved.

Restricted Arm Movement

People with a mid-shaft humerus fracture frequently refuse to move their arms since doing so causes them excruciating agony. Frequently, the entire arm, including the wrist and hand, is weak.

Swelling and Bruising

The upper arm will have considerable bruising and swelling, which may go all the way down to the hand. Normally, the swelling develops rather quickly as a result of blood and soft tissue injury in the vicinity.

Crepitus

You can experience a grating or grinding feeling when you move your arm if the shattered bone fragments brush against one another.

Deformity

An evident deformity of the upper arm may result from a displaced humerus fracture, for example, if the bone at the fracture site has overlapped, the arm may look shorter than usual.

Bleeding

There will be bleeding if it is an open fracture, meaning that the bone has punctured the skin.

Altered Sensation

If you have nerve damage associated with a humeral fracture, you will experience sensory changes such as tingling and numbness under the fracture site. Normal wrist and hand movements may also be affected. Injury to the radial nerve is common in humeral shaft fractures.

Diagnosis of a Humerus Fracture

Humeral fractures can limit your ability to easily perform daily tasks. It is important to see a doctor if you suspect a humerus fracture. To best diagnose your injury, your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your medical history and how the injury occurred. One or more of these tests can pinpoint the exact location of the fracture.

X-ray (radiograph)

The location and severity of the fracture will be determined by this test, which is the first one performed. Through the shoulder and upper arm region, an X-ray beam is used to perform the procedure. As a result of bone’s ability to absorb radiation, it appears in the reversed picture. Typically, this examination is enough to determine the fracture’s site and degree.

Computed tomography scan

If the X-ray is not clear, a CAT scan, which combines computer and X-ray technology, may be employed.

Magnetic resonance imaging

An MRI is done when more images are needed, an evaluation of surrounding soft tissue structures is needed, or the patient is no longer exposed to radiation. It uses a magnetic field that produces vibrations by means of radio waves directed at the shoulder and upper arm area. These vibrations are transferred to high-resolution computer images.

How is a Humerus Fracture Treated?

Treatment for humerus fractures relies on a number of variables, including the form of fracture and the presence of any free bone pieces. Your doctor will first take an X-ray of your arm to identify the best course of action. You could be asked to do some arm motions as well. They can use this information to assess the type of fracture you have and whether you have sustained any additional injuries. Because the shattered ends frequently remain close together, surgery is frequently not necessary for proximal and mid-shaft humerus fractures.

Your humerus can recover on its own more quickly as a result. To prevent your arm from moving and, if necessary, stabilize your shoulder, you’ll still need to wear a sling, brace, or splint. Surgery may occasionally be necessary to replace your shoulder joint with a prosthesis or to insert plates, screws, or rods. Most distal fractures and more serious proximal or mid-shaft fractures require surgery. Your doctor could use one of two major approaches:

Pins and screws

A surgeon may need to clean up the fractured ends of your humerus if you have an open fracture, which means a portion of bone protrudes through your skin. They may also use pins, screws, and plates to stabilize the broken ends of your humerus.

Bone grafting

A chunk of bone from another part of your body or from a donor may be added to your humerus if a portion of the bone has been lost or severely crushed. In extreme circumstances, physicians may even utilize an artificial substance to produce a new bone fragment. Your doctor will likely advise physical therapy whether or not you require surgery as a follow-up. You’ll be able to discover exercises and motions to assist strengthen your arm muscles and recover your range of motion by doing this.

Nonsurgical treatment

If the humerus fracture is stable or not out of place, a splint can be used to stabilize it and allow it to heal. This type of non-surgical approach is monitored throughout the healing process to ensure there are no complications and that the bone is indeed healing normally. Patients may be able to start moving it after a few weeks if they are sure they are. Also, avoid lifting heavy objects until the fracture is completely healed.

How Long Does it Take to Heal a Humerus Fracture?

The type of fracture you have will have a big impact on how long it takes to heal. You will have to wear a sling for two to six weeks if your fracture doesn’t require surgery. Fractures near the proximal end heal the fastest, whereas those farther out take the longest. After surgery, you might need to spend a few weeks wearing a cast, sling, splint, or brace. You must visit our doctor frequently during this time so they can assess how well the fracture is mending. You could require X-rays every few weeks for a number of months if the fracture is serious. Within a few months, the majority of people are able to resume their normal level of exercise. To recover lost joint mobility, you may occasionally need physical treatment or occupational therapy.

How can Parents Prevent their Child from Getting a Humerus Fracture     

The possibility of humerus fractures might rise in specific sports and environmental factors. These include snowboarding, skiing, football, rugby, wrestling, and basketball. A humerus fracture can also result from osteoporosis, a disorder that weakens the bones, or after a fall, even a small one.

What’s the Outlook?

Finally, most humerus fractures eventually mend without having any adverse effects on long-term health. Consult your doctor as soon as you have fracture symptoms for the quickest recovery. Maintaining the course of treatment prescribed by your doctors, such as physical therapy or exercises to help you regain strength and flexibility, will also increase your chances of recovering quickly. Every year, hundreds of children, teens, and young adults with fractures of all sorts and degrees of complexity are treated by the orthopedics and fracture experts at “Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists“. Furthermore, our expertise in children allows us to precisely diagnose diseases affecting the growing musculoskeletal system and establish appropriate treatment plans. Orthopedic injuries that require immediate medical attention but are not serious enough to warrant emergency room care are treated by our orthopedic specialists.

 

Humerus Fracture

The humerus is the long bone of the upper arm. It extends from the shoulder to the elbow and connects to the ulna and radius bones of the forearm. A humerus fracture refers to a break in this bone. In addition, pain from a humerus fracture often radiates to the shoulder or elbow, depending on the location of the fracture, and may take weeks to heal.

What are the Various Types?

Depending on where the break occurs, the humerus can fracture into one of three different categories:

Proximal

A break in the upper portion of your humerus close to your shoulder is known as a proximal humerus fracture.

Mid-shaft

A break in the center of your humerus is known as a mid-shaft humerus fracture.

Distal

Near your elbow, distal humerus fractures can happen. This kind occasionally involves loose bone fragments and is typically a component of a more serious elbow injury.

What Causes a Humerus Fracture?

A humerus fracture can occur from any serious blow to your arm, although some are more prone to do so than others. For example, falling with an outstretched arm often fractures the shaft and proximal humerus. A distal humerus fracture is more likely to occur during a high-impact incident, such as a vehicle accident or football tackle. Pathologic fractures of the humerus can also occur as a result of a disorder that weakens the bones. This makes your bones more susceptible to breaking during routine tasks that normally provide no risk of injury. The following things can result in pathologic humerus fractures:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone cancer
  • Bone cysts
  • Bone infection

Symptoms of Humerus Fractures

The following are the most typical signs and symptoms of a mid-shaft humerus fracture:

Upper Arm Pain

When a humerus fractures, there is typically intense, continuous pain involved.

Restricted Arm Movement

People with a mid-shaft humerus fracture frequently refuse to move their arms since doing so causes them excruciating agony. Frequently, the entire arm, including the wrist and hand, is weak.

Swelling and Bruising

The upper arm will have considerable bruising and swelling, which may go all the way down to the hand. Normally, the swelling develops rather quickly as a result of blood and soft tissue injury in the vicinity.

Crepitus

You can experience a grating or grinding feeling when you move your arm if the shattered bone fragments brush against one another.

Deformity

An evident deformity of the upper arm may result from a displaced humerus fracture, for example, if the bone at the fracture site has overlapped, the arm may look shorter than usual.

Bleeding

There will be bleeding if it is an open fracture, meaning that the bone has punctured the skin.

Altered Sensation

If you have nerve damage associated with a humeral fracture, you will experience sensory changes such as tingling and numbness under the fracture site. Normal wrist and hand movements may also be affected. Injury to the radial nerve is common in humeral shaft fractures.

Diagnosis of a Humerus Fracture

Humeral fractures can limit your ability to easily perform daily tasks. It is important to see a doctor if you suspect a humerus fracture. To best diagnose your injury, your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your medical history and how the injury occurred. One or more of these tests can pinpoint the exact location of the fracture.

X-ray (radiograph)

The location and severity of the fracture will be determined by this test, which is the first one performed. Through the shoulder and upper arm region, an X-ray beam is used to perform the procedure. As a result of bone’s ability to absorb radiation, it appears in the reversed picture. Typically, this examination is enough to determine the fracture’s site and degree.

Computed tomography scan

If the X-ray is not clear, a CAT scan, which combines computer and X-ray technology, may be employed.

Magnetic resonance imaging

An MRI is done when more images are needed, an evaluation of surrounding soft tissue structures is needed, or the patient is no longer exposed to radiation. It uses a magnetic field that produces vibrations by means of radio waves directed at the shoulder and upper arm area. These vibrations are transferred to high-resolution computer images.

How is a Humerus Fracture Treated?

Treatment for humerus fractures relies on a number of variables, including the form of fracture and the presence of any free bone pieces. Your doctor will first take an X-ray of your arm to identify the best course of action. You could be asked to do some arm motions as well. They can use this information to assess the type of fracture you have and whether you have sustained any additional injuries. Because the shattered ends frequently remain close together, surgery is frequently not necessary for proximal and mid-shaft humerus fractures.

Your humerus can recover on its own more quickly as a result. To prevent your arm from moving and, if necessary, stabilize your shoulder, you’ll still need to wear a sling, brace, or splint. Surgery may occasionally be necessary to replace your shoulder joint with a prosthesis or to insert plates, screws, or rods. Most distal fractures and more serious proximal or mid-shaft fractures require surgery. Your doctor could use one of two major approaches:

Pins and screws

A surgeon may need to clean up the fractured ends of your humerus if you have an open fracture, which means a portion of bone protrudes through your skin. They may also use pins, screws, and plates to stabilize the broken ends of your humerus.

Bone grafting

A chunk of bone from another part of your body or from a donor may be added to your humerus if a portion of the bone has been lost or severely crushed. In extreme circumstances, physicians may even utilize an artificial substance to produce a new bone fragment. Your doctor will likely advise physical therapy whether or not you require surgery as a follow-up. You’ll be able to discover exercises and motions to assist strengthen your arm muscles and recover your range of motion by doing this.

Nonsurgical treatment

If the humerus fracture is stable or not out of place, a splint can be used to stabilize it and allow it to heal. This type of non-surgical approach is monitored throughout the healing process to ensure there are no complications and that the bone is indeed healing normally. Patients may be able to start moving it after a few weeks if they are sure they are. Also, avoid lifting heavy objects until the fracture is completely healed.

How Long Does it Take to Heal a Humerus Fracture?

The type of fracture you have will have a big impact on how long it takes to heal. You will have to wear a sling for two to six weeks if your fracture doesn’t require surgery. Fractures near the proximal end heal the fastest, whereas those farther out take the longest. After surgery, you might need to spend a few weeks wearing a cast, sling, splint, or brace. You must visit our doctor frequently during this time so they can assess how well the fracture is mending. You could require X-rays every few weeks for a number of months if the fracture is serious. Within a few months, the majority of people are able to resume their normal level of exercise. To recover lost joint mobility, you may occasionally need physical treatment or occupational therapy.

How can Parents Prevent their Child from Getting a Humerus Fracture?      

The possibility of humerus fractures might rise in specific sports and environmental factors. These include snowboarding, skiing, football, rugby, wrestling, and basketball. A humerus fracture can also result from osteoporosis, a disorder that weakens the bones, or after a fall, even a small one.

What’s the Outlook?

Finally, most humerus fractures eventually mend without having any adverse effects on long-term health. Consult your doctor as soon as you have fracture symptoms for the quickest recovery. Maintaining the course of treatment prescribed by your doctors, such as physical therapy or exercises to help you regain strength and flexibility, will also increase your chances of recovering quickly. Every year, hundreds of children, teens, and young adults with fractures of all sorts and degrees of complexity are treated by the orthopedics and fracture experts at “Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists“. Furthermore, our expertise in children allows us to precisely diagnose diseases affecting the growing musculoskeletal system and establish appropriate treatment plans. Orthopedic injuries that require immediate medical attention but are not serious enough to warrant emergency room care are treated by our orthopedic specialists.

 

Call 214-556-0590 to make an appointment.

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