Humerus Fractures

Humerus fractures are breaks in the upper arm bone. Humerus fractures are caused by direct trauma to the arm or shoulder or by axial loading through the elbow. Most often, humerus fractures are caused by falls onto the arm or shoulder. Symptoms include arm and shoulder pain, bruising, swelling, deformity, numbness, weakness, and an inability to move the shoulder.


A humerus fracture usually produces swelling and pain in the upper arm.  There is also a marketed inability to move the arm.  Attempts to use the lower portion of the arm may be restricted due to instability of the upper arm.  Injuries to the nerve may also occur.


Dr. Louis will perform a thorough examination to evaluate and determine the extent of your arm injuries and conduct a complete review of your medical history.

He may also utilized diagnostic tools such as an MRI, X-ray or CT scan to confirm the extent of your condition.

There are three classifications of humerus fractures depending on the location of the fracture along the bone.

A proximal humerus fracture occurs close to the shoulder joint, toward the top of the humerus bone. The proximal humerus attaches important rotator cuff muscles to the shoulder joint and injury to this area severely limits shoulder movement. The most common cause is a fall on an outstretched hand from a standing position. Direct, intense trauma is a more frequent cause in younger patients and the injury is often more severe.


If the bone fragments are not shifted out of position, a proximal humerus fracture can be treated without surgery. However, an experienced surgeon such as Dr. Louis should be consulted about surgery if the fragments have shifted or been pulled out of position. Surgery to this area involves fixing the fractured fragments with plates, screws, or pins.

A mid-shaft humerus fracture occurs toward the middle of the humerus bone and is most often caused by direct trauma and less often by falls.


Most mid-shaft fractures will heal without the aid of surgery. Non-surgical techniques include use of the hanging arm cast, splint, abduction cast, or functional brace. If surgery is indicated, however, Dr. Louis has much experience in fixing this type of injury.

Distal humerus fractures occur near the spot where the humerus meets the elbow. These are the least common form of humerus breaks. When the distal humerus is injured, elbow joint movement is impaired.


Dr. Louis uses different methods to maintain stability and restore alignment and anatomic congruities in treating distal humerus fractures. In non-displaced fractures, methods include splints and casts. If the bones have been displaced, internal fixation, including pins, plates, and screws, may be necessary.

In all cases, these fractures should be examined by a knowledgeable doctor, such as Dr. Louis to determine if surgery is necessary.DSC_3598_00282804 copy