Fracture of the Shaft of the Humerus
Hello, I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Bone Fracture Lawyer. Many people have experienced a broken arm due to multiple causes. Some people get hurt playing sports while other people just slip and fall. A fracture of the shaft of the humerus is one of the most common bone fractures that people can develop in a car accident.
What is a Fracture of the Shaft of the Humerus?
The humerus is the long bone of the arm and has several different parts to it. The head of the humerus is the ball and socket joint that makes up the shoulder. The head is attached to the neck, a thin part of the humerus that could also be injured. The neck connects to the shaft, which is the long portion of the humerus that can also be injured in extremity trauma.
Mechanism of a Humeral Shaft Fracture
A fracture in the shaft of the humerus is common. Kids develop a fracture of the humeral shaft from tripping and falling. In car accidents, a car or an object can impact the side of the car in a t-bone type accident. The passenger or driver can have their lateral arm pinned between their body and the door. This kind of direct trauma can easily lead to a humeral shaft fracture and hand fractures.
There are multiple treatment modalities for a fracture of the shaft of the humerus. The first step will be to order an x-ray to grade the severity of the fracture. If the fracture isn’t displaced and is not a pathologic fracture, the patient may not require surgery and will receive a cast. The cast will last for around six weeks, immobilizing the bone so it can heal. If the fracture is displaced, surgery may be required.
Complications of Fractures of the Shaft of the Humerus
One of the most serious complications that people can develop from a fracture of the shaft of the humerus is called crush syndrome. This happens in serious car accidents where the arm is pinned inside or underneath the car for an extended period of time. The arm is crushed, fracturing the arm in multiple places and damaging the blood supply. The muscle tissue of the arm will start to die, releasing toxins into the bloodstream that can place the patient in dire medical condition.
Structures at Risk
The most notable structure placed at risk is the radial nerve. The radial nerve powers movements of the arm and hand. It also provides sensation to regions of the arm and hand. The radial nerve runs along the humerus and can be damaged if a bone fragment cuts the nerve. The physician will inspect this nerve with any humerus shaft fracture and repair it if damaged. Rehabilitation of this peripheral nerve injury may be required.
The differential diagnosis for humerus injuries includes:
- Fracture of the humeral neck
- Fracture of the humeral head
- Shoulder Dislocation
- Elbow dislocation
- Fracture of either the radius or the ulna
Prognosis of Humeral Shaft Fractures
These fractures are very common and almost universally heal within 6 weeks. If the fracture is severe or comes with some of the complications described above, the process could be longer and require extensive rehabilitation. This is handled on a case by case basis.
If the fracture has been displaced or if other structures have been damaged according to the imaging studies, surgery will be required. An orthopedic or trauma surgeon will use screws and plates to place the bones back into proper alignment.
Sacramento Bone Fracture Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Bone Fracture Lawyer. Anyone involved in a car accident leading to a traumatic injury should call me at (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice. Everyone is welcome to use my toll-free number at (800) 404-5400.
I am part of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum in California. Our group has won verdicts and settlements in excess of 1 Million Dollars.
Take a look at my prior verdicts and settlements here.
Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commons – By Bill Rhodes