The shoulder is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body, where many muscles act to provide the widest range of motion of any part of the body. This flexibility is also what makes the shoulder prone to instability and injury.
The shoulder joint is formed where the humerus (upper arm bone) fits into the scapula (shoulder blade), like a ball and socket. The clavicle (collarbone) extends across the front of the shoulder from the sternum to the scapula and helps stabilize the shoulder’s movements.
Upper Arm (Humerus) Fractures
WHAT IS AN UPPER ARM FRACTURE?
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 OF AN UPPER ARM FRACTURE?
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 OF AN UPPER ARM FRACTURE?
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 OF AN UPPER ARM FRACTURE?
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 FOR AN UPPER ARM FRACTURE?
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.