Fracture of the Neck of the Humerus
Hello, I’m Ed Smith, a Bone Fracture Attorney in Sacramento. It’s not unusual for people to break their arm when they’re younger. Kids trip and fall, get injured playing sports, or get hurt on trampolines; however, an arm can be broken in many different places. Everyone, including adults, can break their arm in a car accident. One of the most common bone fractures people can sustain is at the neck of the humerus.
What is a Fracture of the Neck of the Humerus?
The arm is made up of many different parts, even at the level of the humerus. The top of the humerus is called the head. The head is the part of the arm that inserts into the shoulder socket. Just below the head is called the neck. The neck connects the long part of the bone, called the shaft of the humerus, to the head of the humerus. The neck is a common area where arms can sustain a fracture.
Mechanism of a Humeral Neck Fracture
Fractures of the neck of the humerus are relatively common. The most likely mechanism of injury is due to direct trauma. For example, if someone is injured in a vehicle accident, the car door can apply blunt force trauma to the humerus. Because the neck of the humerus is thin when compared to the thickness of the head, this is the likely break point. Alternatively, bone degeneration due to cancer can weaken the bone, causing pathologic fractures.
There are several treatment options for a fracture of the neck of the humerus. The first decision is going to be whether or not surgery is required. The physician will order an x-ray to look at whether or not the fracture has been displaced. If the fracture hasn’t been displaced, the patient will receive a cast to immobilize the bone and allow it to heal. If it is displaced or an open fracture, other treatment options will be considered
Fractures of the Neck of the Humerus: Complications
The most serious complication that people have to worry about with a fracture of the neck of the humerus is called avascular necrosis. In this complication, the fracture has damaged the blood supply to the humerus. Bone is living tissue and requires this blood supply to remain alive. If the blood supply is compromised, the bone will start to die with a disease called avascular necrosis.
Structures Placed at Risk
There is a bundle of nerves that run through the upper arm that could be damaged by the fracture. If these nerves are severed by bone fragments, brachial plexus injuries can result, leading to loss of function of the upper arm. In addition, the axillary artery runs through the upper arm, providing blood and nutrients to the bone. If this artery is severed, it will need to be repaired quickly to save the arm.
The differential diagnosis for humerus injuries includes:
- Rotator Cuff Injury
- Fracture of the humeral head
- Torn Labrum
- Fracture of the Humeral Shaft
- Shoulder Dislocation
Prognosis of Humeral Neck Fractures
Humeral neck fractures are very common and generally have a favorable prognosis. Most patients will require a cast for around six weeks to immobilize the arm and allow it to heal properly. Once the cast is removed, patients may require some physical therapy to loosen up a stiff arm.
Imaging such as x-rays, CT scans, or an MRI with or without gadolinium will be performed to examine the injured area. If the fracture is displaced or if other structures have been damaged, surgery will be required to pin the bones back into place and repair any other damaged structures.
Sacramento Bone Fracture Attorneys
I’m Ed Smith, a Bone Fracture Attorney in Sacramento. If you have suffered a traumatic injury in an accident call me at (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice. My toll-free line is also available at (800) 404-5400.
I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. We are top trial lawyers in the country and have won multiple million-dollar verdicts for past clients.
View my prior verdicts and settlements here.
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