Complications of Fractures of the Humeral Head

Complications of Fractures of the Humeral Head

Fractures of the humerus, particularly the humeral head, can lead to significant complications. The humerus is the bone that makes up the upper arm. It starts at the shoulder and runs to the elbow. As one of the thickest bones in the body, it requires a tremendous amount of force to cause a fracture. As such, if someone suffers a fracture of the humerus, they often have other injuries as well. According to a study published by the American College of Rheumatology:

  • There are two separate peaks in the incidence of humerus fractures.
  • One is in teenagers and young adults, and the other is in the elderly.
  • In 2008, about 370,000 people in the US visited the ER for a humerus fracture.
  • Some of the most common causes of humerus fractures include auto accidents and slip and fall injuries.

The Role of the Head of the Humerus

The head of the humerus plays a critical role in the function of the chest, neck, and upper arm. The shoulder is a “ball and socket” joint which has a significant range of motion. The head of the humerus is the “ball” in the ball and socket joint. The glenoid labrum is the socket. The head of the humerus joins the glenoid and forms the shoulder. If the humerus head is injured, this severely limits the range of motion of the arm.

Complications of a Humeral Head Fracture

If the head of the humerus has been fractured, there are several major complications to be aware of. Some of these include:

  • Avascular Necrosis:  This is perhaps the most dangerous complication that might develop. If the blood supply to the head of the humerus has been disrupted, this could result in avascular necrosis of the head of the humerus. Without a blood supply, the bone does not receive the oxygen or nutrients it needs to survive. This results in tissue death.
  • Nerve Damage: Another potential complication is nerve damage. There are important nerves that power the shoulder and the upper arm that run through this area. If the humerus head is fractured, these nerves could be damaged as well. This can lead to severe pain and weakness in the arm. In some cases, the nerve can be repaired; however, this is rare.

Treatment Options for a Humeral Head Fracture

If someone presents with signs and symptoms concerning for a fracture of the humerus, imaging is typically used to confirm the diagnosis. If any of these complications are detected, surgery is usually the next step. Dead tissue will be removed. Torn nerves will be repaired, if viable. Sometimes, plates and screws are needed to put the bone fragments back together. After the surgical procedure is finished, the bone will need time to heal. Individuals may also enroll in a physical therapy program.

Watch YouTube Video: Distal Humeral Fractures. This video explains how distal humerus fractures can occur in many different ways.

Contacting an Injury Attorney

Being told a loved one requires surgery for a serious injury is not an easy situation. Questions immediately flood the mind about the circumstances of the injury, the mechanism of the accident, and whether or not anything could have been done to prevent it. Families could feel overwhelmed. Meeting with a personal injury attorney in Sacramento can be helpful. Some of the ways that an injury lawyer can assist with include:

  • Reviewing the records from the accident to ensure that nothing has been missed.
  • Reconstructing what happened at the scene with the help of professionals to make sure that the mechanism is correct.
  • Helping families make objective decisions during an emotionally charged time.
  • Shifting a case to trial when required.

Families need to know that they aren’t alone during such a difficult time. Reach out to a Sacramento personal injury lawyer today. You could be owed a significant financial settlement.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento. A fracture of the head of the humerus can lead to some major complications. If your loved one has developed a fracture of the humeral head following a severe accident, call me today at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.

I am honored to be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and of the  Top One Percent, a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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