ARM BONE (HUMERUS) FRACTURE

The arm is the humerus. The primary function of the arm is bearing the weight of the arm. A fracture of the humerus affects the ability to move your shoulder, as well as bend and straighten the elbow.

Cause

The arm bone can break in several ways. The bones can crack slightly or can break into many pieces. Arm fractures are generally due to automobile accidents; direct blow on the arm or fall on an outstretched arm during sports, climbing stairs, etc.

Symptoms

The symptoms of an arm fracture include intense pain in the arm, bruises and swelling. Your fractured arm may appear bent and shorter compared to your other arm. You may experience numbness or weakness in the fingers and wrist (Radial nerve palsy). You may be unable to rotate your arm. In severe cases, a broken bone sticks out through the skin or the wound penetrates down to the broken bone.

Diagnosis

A physical examination will be conducted, medical history recorded and x-rays ordered to evaluate the fracture.

Treatment

Usually, people with arm fractures are immediately rushed to the emergency room for treatment. Treatment of arm fractures aims at putting back the broken bones into position and preventing them from moving out of place until they are completely healed.

Nonsurgical Treatment

In case the bone is only cracked and is not out of place or can be put in place, Dr Bala might treat it with a U slab or brace and provide a sling to keep your arm in position. Dr Bala will closely monitor the healing of the fracture with x-rays. If the fracture shifts in position, you may need to undergo surgery to fix the bone back together.

Surgical Treatment

When the arm bone is broken and displaced, surgery is usually required. During surgery (Open reduction and internal fixation), the cuts from the injury will be cleaned and the bone fragments are repositioned into their normal alignment. They are held together with screws and metal plates attached to the outer surface of the bone or on occasion a nail down the middle of the bone. Rarely pins on the outside (called an external fixator), are used to stabilize the fracture.

 

Arm fractures involving the lower 1/3rd are approached from the back of the arm while those involving the upper 2/3 are approached from the front/outside. This surgery can involve working very close to important blood vessels and nerves that supply your hand and Dr Bala uses special magnification loupes to visualize and protect these structures. The incision is sutured firmly and a sling is provided to facilitate healing. In the event you may have a tattoo on the arm Dr Bala is well versed in suturing tattoos back accurately with absorbable sutures.

Following the surgery, a cast / splint may be required

Dr Bala specializes in treatment of failed previous surgery to the arm bone or neglected injuries.