Humerus Fractures pain

Humerus Fractures: Types, Causes, and Treatment

The humerus is the long bone of upper arm. It extends from your shoulder to elbow, where it joins with the radius and ulna bones of your forearm.

A humerus forearm fracture can be defined as any break in this bone. 

The pain from a humerus fracture mostly extends to either your elbow or shoulder, depending on where the break is, and recovery may last many weeks.

The article will elaborate about the various types of humerus fractures and how long they will take to heal.

What are the different types of humerus fractures?

Fractures pain

There are three types of humerus fracture, which depends on the location of the break;

  • Proximal: A proximal humerus fracture is a break in the upper part of humerus near your shoulder.
  • Mid- shaft: A mid-shaft humerus fracture is a break in the middle of the humerus.
  • Distal: Distal humerus fractures occur near the elbow. This type is generally part of a more complex elbow injury and sometimes involves bone fragments.

What causes it?

Proximal pain

Any injury or hard blow to your arm can result in a humerus fracture, but some are more likely to cause certain types. For example, breaking your fall with an outstretched arm can often cause proximal and mid-shaft humerus fractures. A high impact collision, such as a football tackle or car accident, is more likely to cause a distal humerus fractures.

Humerus fractures can also be pathologic fractures, which occur as the result of a condition that weakens your bones. This leaves your bones more vulnerable to breaks from everyday activities that would not usually cause any injuries. 

Things that can cause pathologic humerus fractures include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone cysts
  • Bone cancer or
  • Bone infection

How is it treated?

Treating a humerus fracture depends on many factors, including the type of fracture and whether there are any loose bone fragments. To determine the best treatment, your doctor will start by taking an X-ray of the arm. They may also have you do some movements with your arm. This will help them determine what type of fracture you have and whether you have any other injuries.

In several cases, mid-shaft and proximal humerus fractures do not require surgery because the broken ends generally stay close together. This makes it easier for the humerus to heal on its own. However, you will still need to wear a brace, sling, or splint to keep your arm from moving and stabilize your shoulder, if required. Occasionally, surgery is needed with either bone screws, bone plates, rods, or sometimes replacement of your shoulder joint with use of a prosthesis. 

Distal fractures and more severe mid-shaft or proximal fractures usually require surgery. There are two main approaches that a surgeon may use:

  • Pins and screws: If you have an open fracture, which involves a piece of bone sticking through your skin, surgery will be needed to clean up the broken ends and they may use pins and screws as well as plates to hold the broken ends of your humerus in place.
  • Bone grafting: If some of the bone has been severely crushed or lost, your surgeon may take a piece of bone from any other area of your body or a donor and add it to your humerus. In some cases, doctors can even use an artificial material to create a new piece of bone. 

Regardless of whether you need surgery or not, your doctor will probably suggest follow up with physical therapy for better health. This will help you learn movements and exercises you can do to help strengthen your arm muscles and regain your range of motion.

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