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Fracture of The Humerus : Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Friday, July 13th 2012. | Bone Health, Disease

Fracture of The Humerus Definition

Depending on the location of the fracture can be distinguished:

  • Fracture below the humeral head (subcapital fracture)
  • Placed fracture of the shaft between the head of the arm and elbow (fracture of the humeral shaft)
  • Fracture located just above the elbow (fracture distal)

The inner edge of the humeral head – just below the shoulder joint – the arm bone is relatively soft and small, and can be easily fractured during a coup or a serious fall on the arm. This fracture is among the most frequent. Fractures due to bone metastases of malignant tumors usually affect the area of the diaphysis of the arm.

In about 5% of cases, the humeral head fracture that. The head of the arm bone, is relatively large, highly mobile and it is essential to restore exactly the bony contour, and retain high mobility. The supine position (arm extended along the body) allows the doctor to see a fracture of the humerus. The treatment is performed without surgery – for simple fractures. First, stabilization and specific therapeutic exercise are needed.

Humerus fracture Causes

A heavy blow or fall are the leading cause of broken arms. Osteoporosis in the elderly is a cause of fracture of the humerus, even if dropped slightly. When the fracture is due to metastases of a malignant tumor, it is called a pathological fracture.

Fracture of The Humerus (img :idsportsmed.com)

Humerus Fracture Disorders (symptoms)

Immediate and intense pain after an accident on the arm, accompanied by a significant limitation of mobility. There is then an effusion and swelling, especially when the tissues around the bone are achieved (muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels). Malposition is observed in more serious cases.

If the nerves are affected, there may have impaired sensitivity to paralysis.

Humerus Fracture Examinations (Diagnosis)

The description of the accident as well as visible signs (lying down, swelling, effusion, or malposition) allow the physician to diagnose.

A radiograph is performed to estimate the exact location and extent of the injury of the arm. CT demonstrates the collateral damage of ligaments and tendons.

Humerus Fracture Treatment Options

A broken arm (in particular, subcapital) is treated without surgery. In the elderly, osteoporosis is treated to avoid the risk of recurrence. The breaking point – if any – is the subject of a local or general anesthesia.

Conservative treatment

  • Gilchrist bandage: bandage now support the arm at right angles against the body for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • After a short period, rehabilitation therapy allows to find an early mobility (pendulum exercises). Warning: this type of movement is carried out only with the help of a specialist.
  • Extension exercises of the arm to 60 °.
  • After 6 weeks, free exercises but it took another six weeks for rotations
  • After 2 to 3 weeks, water gymnastics
  • Not to charge more than 2 kg until bone healing is complete (about 6 weeks).
  • Radiological surveys are conducted regularly during treatment.

Surgical Treatment

There are different procedures for the broken arm, depending on its size and location. The common objectives of different techniques is to set the fractured bone to its original position, so that the patient gets a high mobility of the shoulder joint.

  • Osteosynthesis : implantation of a metal plate, screws or other fastening materials metal tolerated by the body to stabilize angular
  • In some cases, a metal external fixation is required; screws are fixed on the bone
  • Then, the arm must be stabilized for a few weeks with a splint or cast. A bandage for the extension of the bone may be necessary
  • If the bone is too fragmented, we can create a bypass using autologous (usually from the pelvic area)
  • A badly damaged joint does not usually require arthrodesis
  • When the injury of muscles, tendons or nerves is important, a plastic surgery can be useful

Medical Drugs

  •  Analgesics
  •  Antibiotics in preventing

Rehabilitation after surgery

  • After 3 to 4 weeks, rehabilitation therapy with extension to 80 °
  • Full mobility after bone healing is complete (about 6 weeks)
  • Water gymnastics after healing
  • Not to charge more than 2 kg until bone healing is complete (about 6 weeks).

Fracture of The Humerus Possible Complications

The broken arm is healing well, that treatment be conservative or surgical. Consequences such as limited mobility are infrequent.

Beware of possible complications and a normal operation: infections, thrombosis, hemorrhage secondary effusion of blood, allergies implants, paralysis or sensory disturbances in cases of nerve damage. A compression cuff placed during surgery reduces the risk of secondary hemorrhage.

With conservative treatment as well as surgical pressure bandage may affect the nerves or blood vessels, with a conservative treatment, the fracture may leave his position, heal poorly or improperly positioned.

Other possible complications:

  • Pseudarthrosis
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