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What is Mid-Shaft Humerus Fracture?

A mid-shaft humerus fracture is a common type of humerus fracture that occurs along the mid-section of the humerus or upper arm bone.

Anatomy of the Humerus

The upper arm mainly consists of a single large bone, called the humerus, which connects the shoulder and the elbow together. Connected to the shoulder blade, at the shoulder joint, the humerus narrows down into a cylindrical shaft and joins at its base with the bones of the lower arm to form the elbow joint. Generally, the humerus can be classified into three sections, the proximal region, shaft, and the distal region.

Causes of Mid-Shaft humerus Fracture

Common causes of a humeral shaft fracture include:

  • A direct blow or injury
  • High impact collision injuries
  • Penetrating trauma (gunshot wounds)
  • Weakening of the bone due to a disorder called osteoporosis

Risk Factors for Mid-Shaft Humerus Fractures

Elderly individuals and those with osteoporosis are at a higher risk for sustaining mid-shaft humerus fractures from simple falls.

Symptoms of Mid-Shaft Humerus Fracture

The various signs and symptoms of a mid-shaft humerus fracture include:

  • Severe arm pain
  • Swelling
  • Restricted motion of the shoulder and arm
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness
  • Deformity

Diagnosis of a Mid-Shaft Humerus Fracture

Your doctor will perform a physical examination to obtain the primary diagnosis. Afterward, your doctor may use imaging techniques like x-ray imaging and CT scan to obtain further details.

Treatments

Most mid-shaft humerus fractures are minimally displaced and can be treated with conservative approaches such as the use of a sling to immobilize your arm for about a week and afterward a fracture brace is fitted to your arm. The fracture brace holds the broken edges of the humerus in a position to ensure proper healing.

However, in the case of displaced fractures, multiple fractures, open fractures where the bone protrudes through the skin, or injuries to major blood vessels or nerves; surgical options may be used to treat the condition. The types of surgeries used for fracture treatment includes:

  • Placement of Metal Plates: This is a common and effective surgical procedure for the treatment of humeral fractures. It involves the placement of a large metal plate along the humerus, which is secured in place using screws.
  • Insertion of Intramedullary Rods: This is a less invasive surgical procedure used for the fracture treatment that is performed without disturbing the various nerves that surround the arm. In this method, a metal rod, known as an intramedullary rod, is placed down the hollow center of the bone to stabilize the bone.

Healing of Mid-Shaft Humerus Fractures

The healing of a mid-shaft humerus fracture by conservative methods can take up to twelve weeks. Even after this period, the complete joint functionality and mobility can only be recovered over time with proper exercises and physical therapy. This long recovery period is the main reason why most people prefer surgical procedures for the treatment of these fractures.

Prognosis of Mid-shaft Humerus Fractures

Generally, with appropriate treatment, your arm will regain its functionality over time without any complications. Some of the complications associated with these fractures include radial nerve injury and the non-union of the fracture.

  • American Society for Surgery of the Hand
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Texas Medical Association