Proximal Humerus Fracture Handout

Definition: A proximal humerus fracture is a common injury to the shoulder. Especially common in elderly individuals due to osteoporosis, proximal humerus fractures are among the most common broken bones.

Where is the broken bone in a proximal humerus fracture?

A proximal humerus fracture occurs when the ball, of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint, is broken. The fracture is actually at the top of the arm bone.

What is the treatment of a proximal humerus fracture?

Most often, proximal humerus fractures are not badly displaced, and will heal with simple management in sling. It is not possible to cast proximal humerus fractures.

In more severe or badly displaced fractures, surgery may be necessary. In surgery, either the fracture pieces are put back together and held in position, or the broken bones are removed and a shoulder replacement is performed. If the fragments of bone can be fixed, either pins, screws, wires, large sutures, or a plate will be used to hold the bones in place. The determination of performing a shoulder replacement depends on how many pieces of the bone are fractured.

Why do some proximal humerus fractures require surgery?

The proximal humerus is part of the shoulder joint, and it also is the attachment of the important rotator cuff muscles. These muscles help with movement of the shoulder, and injury to the proximal humerus can affect the function of these muscles.

Also Known As: shoulder fracture, broken shoulder