treatment

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Most proximal humerus fractures are undisplaced - one-part fractures - and may be treated conservatively. The arm should be supported in a sling for about 4 weeks until pain subsides. The hand should be actively exercised throughout. Initially, the shoulder is immobile; after 4 weeks, it should be moved passively; and after 6 weeks, actively.

Usually, two-part fractures can be reduced without operation and then supported with a chest bandage for 4 weeks. A humeral neck fracture however, may require internal fixation to avoid the risk of avascular necrosis of the humeral head.

Three-part and four-part fractures are progressively, less stable. Most require open reduction and internal fixation. External fixation however, may successfully treat three-part fractures whereas prosthetic replacement of the proximal humerus may be indicated in a four-part fracture.

Separation of the proximal epiphysis in children is best treated conservatively, with rest in a sling for about 3 weeks.

Last reviewed 01/2018