Humeral Shaft Fracture (broken arm)
On this page
- What has happened?
- What should I expect?
- What should I do?
- What should I not do?
- Will I be followed up?
- What if I have concerns/questions?
What has happened?
- You have broken on the bone in your upper arm
- These fractures often heal without surgery, although some may require further management
What should I expect?
- Your arm will be swollen and sore, and you will likely develop bruising in your upper arm - this may also go down to your forearm and fingers, which is normal
- You will be placed in a special cast or sling and this is to help the bone ends heal in line
- Return to work or sport typically takes 8-12 weeks, and is dependant on the broken arm being completely healed - especially if work requires heavy lifting
What should I do?
- Take regular pain relief (e.g. paracetamol and ibuprofen) as needed
- Leave your arm in the sling until instructed otherwise by the orthopaedic team
- Keep your fingers and wrist moving as often as you can
- If your fracture is not displaced (the bone is not moved out of the correct alignment) then you will be advised to start some gentle arm exercises after about a week - 'pendulum exercises' (stand and lean forward, relaxing your injured arm towards the ground, then make small side to side, forwards and back and circular movements with your injured arm).
- If you are placed in a plaster cast, keep this dry at all times by putting a plastic bag over your cast and securing it with tape before showering.
What should I not do?
- Don't use the arm for lifting heavy objects
- You will be unable to drive at this time
- Try to reduce or stop smoking as this may delay bone healing
Will I be followed up?
- Yes, a follow-up appointment in the Orthopaedic Clinic will be requested when you leave the Emergency Department (ED) and you will be contacted regarding a date and time
What if I have concerns/questions?
- If your injury is not settling or you have other concerns, you should first see your GP - take your ACC form/number with you
- Please seek medical attention if you experience the following:
- Increasing pain in the hand
- Numbness or tingling in the hand
- Your fingers go cold or turn blue white, in comparison to the other hand
- You are unable to move your fingers