What are humeral fractures?

A humeral fracture is a break along the long arm bone. A fracture of this kind may occur due to an injury, accident or sudden fall. Surgery is often required to help rebuild broken pieces of bone. The upper arm bone is tough, so it takes an extensive amount of force, such as a severe fall, to cause the bone to break. Depending on the extent of the fracture and any other injuries you have sustained, it will take several months, maybe even more, to recover fully.

What causes a humeral fracture?

Sudden trauma is the primary cause of a humeral fracture. The humerus is one of the most durable bones to be hit or impacted by force. Common causes of a humeral fracture include motor vehicle accidents, falls and sports injuries. In addition, a condition such as osteoporosis can lead to brittle, weakening bones.

How does Dr van Niekerk check for a humeral fracture?

Dr van Niekerk diagnoses a humeral fracture by conducting a physical assessment and a series of imaging studies. In most cases, diagnostics are done in the emergency room after you have sustained the fracture. While you are in the ER, it’s critical to determine how serious your fracture is. Dr van Niekerk stabilises your condition and addresses the severity of your injuries, particularly if some of these injuries pose a serious health risk. As a result, Dr van Niekerk conducts the following tests:

  • X-ray to check for a fracture in the long arm bone and determine how badly damaged the bone is.
  • MRI scan generates a detailed image of the damage to your bones and surrounding areas (tissue that engulfs the bone).
  • CT scan offers further insight into the damage to your bones and nearby tissue. Therefore, a CT scan is often considered better than an x-ray, especially in the event of a broken humerus.

How do you treat humeral fractures?

Treatment depends on the severity of the damage to the bone. In addition, treatment is entirely dependent on the grade of the fracture.

Typical treatments include the following:


If the fracture is minor and the broken pieces of bone are still aligned, Dr van Niekerk will use a splint or cast to immobilise the area. Normally, it takes six to eight weeks for the bone to heal.

Closed Reduction

Closed reduction is a procedure to treat severe humeral fractures. As a result, your body is forcefully pushed and pulled externally to help realign the bones.

Internal fixation

Internal fixation involves repositioning the broken pieces of bone for the fragments to unite again. As a result, Dr van Niekerk places the metal in the bone to help secure the fragments in place. Several types of instrumentation are used during internal fixation, such as rods, plates, screws, pins and wires.


Do I need a follow-up?

Follow-ups are extremely important because imaging studies are done to examine how well your bones are healing.

Will I be given an anaesthetic before closed reduction?

A local anaesthetic is used to dull the sensation in the area that requires work. In addition, sedatives can help relax your body, and general anaesthesia is used to make you sleepy throughout the procedure.

Do I need arthroplasty?

If the elbow or shoulder joint is badly damaged, it needs to be replaced with a synthetic joint (prosthesis) made from metal, plastic or ceramic.

Is there a bone graft involved?

You will need bone grafting when you have broken your humerus in many different places, and the fracture is considered far too severe.