humeral shaft fracture

Last reviewed 01/2018

Humeral shaft fractures may result from a variety of mechanisms, different fractures frequently associated with particular injuries:

  • transverse fractures may result from direct trauma to the humerus or a fall on the elbow with an abducted arm
  • spiral fractures may result from twisting of the humerus during a fall on the hand
  • comminuted fractures are usually the result of direct injury
  • the humerus is also a common site for metastases and pathological fractures

The arm is painful, swollen and bruised. There is risk of radial nerve damage which should be tested by asking the patient to extend the fingers - a test of brachioradialis.

A radiograph shows the pattern of the fracture and any associated displacement.