Upper Arm (Humerus) Fractures
The humerus is the arm bone between your shoulder and your elbow. Upper arm fractures occur at the upper end of the humerus, affecting the shoulder joint.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Common symptoms include:
- Pain and swelling in the upper arm that worsens when you try to move your arm
- Unable to raise arm
- Numbness in the upper arm
- You may feel dizzy or faint
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS?
Upper arm fractures usually result from:
- Falling on an outstretched arm
- Direct blow, such as a car crash or accident
Age is also a risk factor, and upper arm fractures are common among older people. If you suffer from illnesses such as bone cancer, this can increase your chances of broken bones (pathological fracture).
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS?
Your doctor will first check on the medical history of the injury, before conducting a physical examination of your shoulder.
Imaging tests such as an x-ray of the shoulder joint will be taken from different angles to determine whether it is fractured. If the x-ray is unclear, a CT scan will be taken as well. This gives the doctor a more detailed view of the injured area.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
An upper arm fracture typically heals by itself, by doing the following:
- Keeping the arm in a sling to reduce movement and hold it in place
- Range of motion exercises to increase arm mobility and restore muscle strength
However, if the fragments are displaced, surgery is needed to realign the broken bones.