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Mid Humeral Fracture

The upper arm is made up of a bone called the humerus. The head of the humerus fits into a shallow socket in your scapula (shoulder blade) to form 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.

Mid humeral fractures are fractures that occur in between the shoulder joint and elbow. They may occur as a simple fracture where the bone is not shattered, wedge fracture where the bone breaks to form a wedge, or complex fracture where the bone is shattered into many pieces.

Mid humeral fractures are often caused by:

  • Direct blow or a bending force on the mid humerus
  • Falling onto an outstretched arm
  • Violent muscle contraction in sports such as weight lifting

Patients usually present with considerable pain, and swelling. Shortening of the arm is apparent when significant displacement of the bones occurs.

Mid humeral fractures can be diagnosed through X-ray imaging and ultrasound.

Most fractures can be successfully treated with conservative treatment. Your doctor may allow the arm to hang next to your side so that the bones align and will place it in a hanging arm cast or a splint for 1-3 weeks, and then in a functional brace.

Surgical treatment is recommended for the following conditions:

  • Fractures that cannot be managed conservatively
  • Segmental fractures
  • Pathologic fractures (bone tumor)
  • When blood vessels are injured
  • Patients who need to have upper extremity weight-bearing capability
  • Open fractures where the skin is broken by the fractured bone
  • Obese patients in whom alignment is difficult

Surgery involves open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF).  This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. First your broken bones are put back into their normal anatomic position.  Internal fixation devices such as plates, screws, or intramedullary implants are then used to hold your broken bones together.  You will be placed in a dressing and/or cast following your procedure.