About Humerus Fractures

By Anatomography (en:Anatomography (setting page of this image)) [CC BY-SA 2.1 jp (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.1/jp/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
Animated medical illustration of the humerus bone (in red highlight). By Anatomography [CC BY-SA 2.1 jp]

The Humerus Bone

The humerus bone is located in the upper arm and it is the largest bone in the arm. The shoulder joint connects to the top of the humerus (proximal humerus) while the elbow joint connects to the bottom of the humerus(distal humerus).

Five percent of all fractures involve the proximal humerus. People sixty-five years and older sustain more proximal humerus fractures than any other kind of fracture except for hip and wrist fractures. The top of the humerus is also known as the humeral head. The humeral head connects with the shoulder blade to form the shoulder joint.

Non-Displaced Fractures

75 to 80% of all proximal humerus fractures are non-displaced. A displaced fracture is a broken bone that has been knocked out of alignment. The proximal humerus is made-up of four parts: the humeral head, greater tuberosity, lesser tuberosity and the humeral shaft. Therefore, the proximal humerus can be displaced in 4 parts. The rotator cuff is connected to the lesser tuberosity and greater tuberosity. As a result, displacement of either of these two can result in serious rotator cuff injuries.

Surgery is usually not required because the majority of proximal humerus fractures are of the non-displaced variety. As a result, most treatment is conservative consisting of immobilization, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Light physical therapy typically begins after two-three weeks of rest and immobilization. It usually takes three months for a typical non-displaced proximal humerus fracture to fully heal.

Surgery may be required for a displaced fracture. Surgery is a serious undertaking and certain factors need to be considered before making a decision including the patient’s age: younger patients are more likely to undergo surgery.  Younger people have more years to live and want to take steps to insure they can live all these years to the fullest. A eighty-year-old person isn’t likely going to go mountain climbing or engage in strenuous activities that require a strong, fully functioning proximal humerus bone.

More Information About Broken Bones and Fractures

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