What is a Humeral Shaft Fracture?
The humerus is the long bone of the upper arm. The humeral shaft refers to the middle of the bone, with the shoulder joint at the top and the elbow joint at the bottom. Humeral shaft fractures can be serious because of a nerve, called the radial nerve. This nerve travels down the humeral shaft and if damaged, can impair a patient’s ability to bend the wrist and fingers. A humeral shaft fracture causes pain in the upper arm, often with the inability to lift the arm. Humeral shaft fractures often bleed into the tissues of the upper arm, causing significant swelling from the shoulder to the hand. Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic shoulder surgeon has extensive experience in treating a humeral shaft fracture for patients in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities.
What is a Humeral Shaft Fracture Fixation?
Dr. Mazzara’s primary goal in the clinical evaluation of a humeral shaft fracture is to decide how it can be treated. He takes into consideration the patient age, general health and what type of break the arm has sustained. If the fracture cannot be treated non-surgically, Dr. Mazzara will repair the bone surgically; the procedure is called a humeral shaft fracture fixation and is typically repaired using one of three methods:
- Intramedullary rod: A metal rod is placed inside the hollow shaft of the humerus. This can be done through a small incision at the shoulder or at the elbow using a special x-ray machine called a fluoroscope. This machine allows Dr. Mazzara to see the bone on a television monitor and guide the rod exactly into place.
- Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF): A metal plate and screws are used along the side of the bone to secure the fracture into it’s normal anatomy. If the radial nerve is involved or damaged, this type of treatment is preferred for humeral shaft fracture fixation.
- External fixation: This surgical method for humeral shaft fracture fixation is uncommon. The external device allows Dr. Mazzara to place metal pins through the skin and into the bone fragments, away from the fracture site. The metal pins are then connected to a metal framework outside the skin. This treatment is only necessary for open fractures (when the bone breaks the surface of the skin) when there is a high infection risk. Dr. Mazzara can stabilize the fracture without introducing foreign matter into the fracture site, such as metal plates.
Are you a candidate for humeral shaft fracture fixation ?
There are two ways to initiate a consultation with Dr. Mazzara:
You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review with Dr. Mazzara.
You can schedule an office consultation with Dr. Mazzara.
What is the Recovery Time After Humeral Shaft Fracture Fixation?
Depending on the extent of overall damage to the arm bone, type of fixation performed and patient age and health, humeral shaft fractures typically heal in about 3 months. After a short hospital stay, pain medicine is prescribed as well as antibiotics and other medicines to help with recovery. Patients will receive physical therapy when the bone has healed enough to allow exercise. Humeral shaft fracture fixation has excellent outcomes and patient are usually allowed to return to their regular activities.
Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities can offer more information and options for humeral shaft fracture fixation in his office, please contact him for a consultation.