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What is a fractured shaft of humerus?

A fractured shaft of humerus is when the middle part of the bone in the upper arm (humerus) breaks. The humerus connects the shoulder to the elbow joint. A fracture of the humeral shaft involves damage to the humerus but may also affect the elbow and shoulder joints, and the soft tissue around the fracture site, including nerves, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.

What is the cause of a fractured shaft of humerus?

Fractures to the humeral shaft are most commonly caused by direct stress such as a blow to the arm or a fall onto an outstretched arm. The risk of a fracture of the humeral shaft also increases with:
  • Contact sports such as football or hockey
  • A history of bone or joint disease, especially osteoporosis
  • Obesity

Soft tissue massage of the humerus and surrounding tissues.Above: Soft tissue massage of the humerus and surrounding tissues.

What are the symptoms/effects of a fractured shaft of humerus?

Symptoms of a fractured shaft of humerus may include:
  • Pain especially when moving the shoulder or elbow.
  • Limited movement
  • Swelling
  • Abnormal sensation over the back of the hand, and weakness of some of the muscles of the hand and wrist if the radial nerve is damaged.


If you suspect you have fractured your arm you need to seek medical advice as soon as possible. You will usually have an X-ray to see the extent of your injury and to confirm a diagnosis of a fracture.

Most people are then provided with a sling or brace, and with time the fracture will heal.

Physiotherapy treatment for a fractured shaft of humerus

Our physiotherapists at Manchester Physio are experienced at treating humeral shaft fractures.

Physiotherapy treatment is strongly advised following immobilisation in a sling or brace to help regain muscle strength and range of movement and get you back to the activities you enjoy.

At Manchester Physio, physiotherapy will promote fracture realignment and healing and maximise function.

Physiotherapy treatment at Manchester Physio may involve:
  • Actively exercising all muscle groups that in the upper arm and the wrist to build strength and flexibility
  • Advice on when to resume normal activities gradually
  • Soft tissue massage and heat therapy to relieve any stiffness or pain
  • Sport specific exercises
The average healing time for this type of fracture is 6 to 8 weeks. Your physiotherapist at Manchester Physio will guide and support you through your rehabilitation program to ensure you get the most out of your treatment and gone to make a full recovery with every success in the long term

For more information about physiotherapy for a fractured humerus, or to book an appointment please call 0161 883 0077.

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