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What is a fractured shaft of the humerus?



A fractured shaft of the humerus is the name for a break in the middle portion of the upper arm bone. Physiotherapy is an important part of the rehabilitation following a fractured shaft of the humerus.


What can cause a fractured shaft of the humerus?



A fractured shaft of the humerus is most commonly caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand. It can also be fractured by a direct blow to the upper arm.


What are the symptoms of a fractured shaft of the humerus?



A fractured shaft of the humerus causes severe pain, swelling and bruising in your arm. Other symptoms include:

What should I do if I have a fractured shaft of the humerus?



A fractured shaft of the humerus is a serious injury. If you have or suspect you have a fracture of the shaft of the humerus, you should immediately go to the nearest accident and emergency department. To help with your pain and reduce and control any swelling you can apply ice to the arm. Ideally, this should be in the form of crushed ice wrapped in a moist towel or cloth applied for up to 20 minutes.


What shouldn’t I do if I have a fractured shaft of the humerus?



If you suspect that you have fractured the shaft your humerus, you should not perform activities which may cause the broken ends of the humerus to move in relation to one another. Therefore, you should not use the injured arm until it has been assessed in accident and emergency. You should also avoid activities which may increase the blood flow to the injured area. These include hot showers, heat rubs, massage and the consumption of alcohol. Activities that increase blood flow to the injured area may increase the bleeding around the fractured ends of bone and could, therefore, prolong your recovery.


Physiotherapy for a fractured shaft of the humerus.



The initial management following a fractured shaft of the humerus should be undertaken at an accident and emergency department. An X-ray will be taken to confirm the fracture and to determine severity of the fracture. Initial management is to stabilise the fracture to allow it to heal. If the fracture is in a satisfactory position then stabilisation will be performed by placing the arm in a cast. If the fracture is not in a satisfactory position then fractured humerus fixation surgery may be performed to set the position of the bones.

Following the initial emergency management in hospital the physiotherapists at Physio.co.uk will be able to provide you with a determination of how long the injury to your humerus is expected to take to heal and determine an appropriate treatment program. Treatment often includes electrotherapy and a progressive series of exercises designed to return you back to normal activity and reduce the risk of ongoing problems. These exercises will initially concentrate on returning the range of movement of your shoulder joint and then progress to strengthening of your shoulder joint and upper arm. Other treatments may include:

Can a fractured shaft of the humerus have any long-term effects?



Most fractures of the shaft of the humerus heal without complication. Once your cast is removed the majority of people go on to make a full recovery, with appropriate physiotherapy. A small number of patients can develop significant stiffness in the shoulder joint following a humeral fracture. This is commonly referred to as a frozen shoulder. A full recovery can still be made if this occurs but recovery may be delayed. In a very small number of cases the broken ends of the bone fail to ‘unite’ or heal. If this occurs you may require surgery or alternative treatments to stimulate healing.

To arrange a physiotherapy appointment call Physio.co.uk on 0330 088 7800 or book online.


Call us on: 0330 088 7800
Phone: 0330 088 7800
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