Fracture of the Humerus – Advice Sheet

Patient Leaflets Team

  • Reference Number: HEY-480/2020
  • Departments: Orthopaedics
  • Last Updated: 18 May 2020

The humerus is the long bone in your upper arm. When broken it needs specialised care so that you can cope with the problems it brings. It will take a minimum of 12 weeks to heal.

This is a very painful injury so take your pain relief medication regularly as prescribed by the doctor. The plaster that is applied for this injury is heavy, this is to help the fracture to stay in the correct position and you must adapt yourself and your lifestyle to get used to this.

Your arm will be very swollen and bruised for the first couple of weeks. A fractured humerus can be very mobile and you may feel and hear the bone moving in the plaster, this is not unusual but by letting the arm hang loosely from the shoulder you could prevent this from happening. The best way to manage your fracture is to let your arm hang in the collar and cuff provided. The following is advised:

  • No pillows under your elbow.
  • No resting your arm on a chair or table.
  • No lying flat in bed.
  • No putting your injured arm in the sleeve of your clothes, just let your arm hang.

To help reduce the swelling and stiffness in your wrist and hand you must keep moving by rotating your wrist, clenching your hand into a fist and then stretching your fingers out.  If you find you have numbness or are unable to move your wrist, please contact the hospital immediately. Keep the plaster dry – no baths – no showers. To wash the injured side lean forward and let your arm swing forward from the shoulder. Do not lift your arm up. Use baby wipes or a well wrung out face cloth.

Be aware that your balance may be seriously affected. Take greater care when walking about, especially when coming down stairs. Take your time.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this sheet, please do not hesitate to contact the clinic: telephone: (01482) 674378.

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