A humerus fracture refers to a broken bone in the upper arm, specifically the humerus bone. The humerus is the long bone that extends from the shoulder joint to the elbow joint. Fractures of the humerus can occur anywhere along its length, including the proximal (near the shoulder), shaft, or distal (near the elbow) regions.

Humerus fractures can result from a variety of causes, including trauma, such as a fall, direct blow, or motor vehicle accident, as well as from sports injuries or underlying medical conditions that weaken the bone. The severity of the fracture can range from a simple crack in the bone to a complete break with displacement of the bone fragments.


Humerus fractures can be classified into different types based on their location and the pattern of the fracture. The main types of humerus fractures include:

1. Proximal humerus fractures: These fractures occur near the shoulder joint, specifically in the upper part of the humerus. Proximal humerus fractures can involve the humeral head (the ball-shaped part of the bone), the neck of the humerus (the area just below the head), or the greater and lesser tuberosities (bony prominences where muscles attach). These fractures are common in older individuals and can often be treated without surgery.

2. Shaft fractures: Shaft fractures occur in the middle region of the humerus bone. These fractures can vary in severity, ranging from hairline cracks to complete breaks. Shaft fractures can be caused by direct trauma, such as a direct blow to the arm, or indirect trauma, like a fall on an outstretched hand. Treatment for shaft fractures depends on the fracture’s location, displacement, and the individual’s age and overall health.

3. Distal humerus fractures: Distal humerus fractures occur near the elbow joint, specifically in the lower part of the humerus. These fractures can involve the articular surface of the bone (the part that forms the joint) or the bony structures surrounding the joint. Distal humerus fractures are often caused by a fall on an outstretched hand or a direct blow to the elbow. Treatment for these fractures may involve surgery to realign and stabilize the bones.

4. Supracondylar fractures: Supracondylar fractures are a specific type of distal humerus fracture where the bone breaks just above the elbow joint. These fractures are more common in children and can be serious due to the proximity to important blood vessels and nerves. Immediate medical attention is crucial for proper evaluation and treatment.


The symptoms of a humerus fracture can vary depending on the location and severity of the fracture. Here are some common symptoms associated with humerus fractures:

1. Pain: Pain is a typical symptom of a humerus fracture. The intensity of the pain can vary, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain.

2. Swelling: Swelling around the site of the fracture is another common symptom. The soft tissues surrounding the fractured bone may become inflamed and swollen.

3. Bruising: Bruising, or discoloration of the skin, may occur around the fractured area. This is a result of blood vessels being damaged during the injury.

4. Deformity: In some cases, a visible deformity may be present at the site of the fracture. This can include an abnormal shape or alignment of the arm or shoulder.

5. Difficulty moving the arm: A humerus fracture can make it challenging or impossible to move the affected arm. This limitation in movement is due to the pain and instability caused by the fracture.

6. Popping or cracking sound: Some individuals may experience a popping or cracking sound at the time of the injury. This sound is often accompanied by immediate pain.

7. Numbness or tingling: If the fracture causes damage to nearby nerves, you may experience numbness or tingling sensations in the arm, hand, or fingers.


The diagnosis of a humerus fracture typically involves a combination of physical examination, medical history assessment, and imaging tests. Here are some steps involved in the diagnosis of a humerus fracture:

1. Medical history: The healthcare professional will ask you questions about how the injury occurred, the symptoms you are experiencing, and any previous medical conditions that may be relevant.

2. Physical examination: The doctor will visually inspect the affected area for any signs of swelling, bruising, or deformity. They may also gently manipulate the arm to assess range of motion and tenderness.

3. Imaging tests: X-rays are the most common imaging tests used to diagnose humerus fractures. X-rays can provide detailed images of the bone and can help determine the location and extent of the fracture. In some cases, a CT scan or MRI may be ordered for a more detailed evaluation.

4. Classification and evaluation: Based on the imaging results, the healthcare professional will determine the type and severity of the humerus fracture. This information will guide the treatment plan.

5. Additional tests: In certain cases, additional tests such as nerve conduction studies or vascular studies may be conducted to assess any associated nerve or blood vessel damage.


The treatment for a humerus fracture depends on several factors, including the location and severity of the fracture, as well as the individual’s age, overall health, and activity level. Here are some common treatment options for humerus fractures:

1. Immobilization: If the fracture is stable and the bones are aligned properly, a cast or splint may be used to immobilize the arm and allow the bones to heal. This is typically done for less severe fractures.

2. Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary, especially if the fracture is displaced or unstable. Surgical options may include open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF), where the bone fragments are realigned and held in place with screws, plates, or rods. In more complex fractures, external fixation, where pins are inserted into the bone and connected to a stabilizing frame outside the body, may be used.

3. Rehabilitation: Following immobilization or surgery, rehabilitation plays a crucial role in the recovery process. Physical therapy exercises are often prescribed to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the arm. This helps to prevent stiffness and promote functional recovery.

4. Pain management: Pain medication, such as over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, may be recommended to manage any discomfort associated with the fracture.

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