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Broken Humerus Not Healing (Page 1)

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I'm a 46 year old female and broke my humerus mid shaft 7 weeks ago in a fall. They discussed pinning it at the time and the following week at fracture clinic but decided it was a clean break and would do well in a brace. Had an xray today and there is very little change from the initial xray, only a very small amount of callous can be seen.

They seemed surprised and questioned wether I was a smoker (I'm not) and if I had a good diet (I do, lots of fruit, veg, lean meat, oily fish, skimmed milk, cheeses, and low fat yogurts (at least one a day)though I do like a couple of drinks in the evening). For the past 2 weeks I've been walking home from work at least 3 times a week (7 miles) and have been trying to mobilse my arm as the joints are getting very stiff and painful (I haven't been given any formal physio - just making it up as I go along), taking out of the sling and gentle exercises. I've also been taking the brace off for bathing and in the evenings leave it off for a couple of hours.

The Doctors discussed pinning it but are concerned about nerve damage so have given me an appointment for 4 weeks where they'll decide what to do if it's still not healing. My husband thinks I should push for the op now, but I think natures way is better and am concerned about nerve damage as currently my hand and wrist seen fine.

My questions are - why is it not healing, what else can I do to promote healing?
Is my diet as good as I think, should I be eating full fat versions of my dairy? Have I been overdoing it by walking and taking my arm out of the brace? I am showing symptons of menopause - could this be working against me?

My normal lifestyle is weight training, running, mountain biking and horse riding - any combination of at least 5 times a week - I'm desparate to get my life back and also thought my fitness would help promote fast healing.


Any help, advice most welcome.
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First Helper tweety05
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replied February 3rd, 2009
fractured humerus
i fractured mine a year ago same place nosurgery was in brace for 12 weeks but dr told me not to take brace off. went to pt for 6 months have good range of motion but still working on shoulder dr told me not to baby arm the more i use it the discomfort will go away i hope long and painfull healing process 49 years old good luck
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replied July 8th, 2012
i frctured my humerus right below the shoulder. recent x-rays show little healing, if any. i still go to rehab but now i've developed a new problem-my lower back is over compensating and i hunch over when i walk up stairs and my upperdisks burn with pain
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replied July 7th, 2009
Broken humerus
Hi,

I'm suffering in the exact same way you are, it's now been 4 months. Would love to hear how you've got on.

Hope to hear from you, any advice you can give me would be great

thank you

Jo
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replied August 7th, 2009
hi tweety05 and jo

broke my l/humerus 17 weeks ago, still in the supporting brace. ortho said we will keep trying the natural way instead of surgery (i don't want that). you just need patience, everyone heals at a different rate. have only just started physio, its is painfull, so start this as soon as you can

michelle
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replied December 25th, 2011
need info
Hey I got questions for you I broke my humerus like a little bit more then a month. and I just been to the emergency 2 times and never went all I have is a splint on. Now idk what to do...
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replied August 26th, 2009
Hang in there
Hello,

I suffered a severe mid-shaft humerus fracture in March. It was a comminuted fracture, broken in about 5 or so pieces. Somehow, over the course of about a month the bone found a satisfactory alignment without surgery. However, it is still not healed. There is finally some visible healing in the xray, but I likely have several more months of healing left. I also suffered significant nerve injury to the radial, median, and ulnar nerves in my left arm. I had almost complete paralysis of extension in my digits and wrist. I have had significant recovery in that area over the past six months. My wrist is working quite well now but the fingers and thumb still have limited extension. Patience is the key, you are very early in the process. My orthopedic doctor and I are still very hopeful that with a bone stimulator and time, the injury will heal fully. I am also very optimistic about my motor function in my hand. Just keep doing what you are doing. Don't push it. It will come in time. Hopfully much sooner than mine. It'll be a year before I am "healed." Btw I am 30 years old, so it can take a very long time for us youngsters as well.
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replied October 15th, 2009
broken humerus
Hi. Im 21 years of age and broke my left humerus and dislocated my shoulder whilst abroad in Greece in an accident. The doctors in Greece could speak little English but told me that i would need an operation to have it fixed.I was reluctant to have an operation abroad so booked an earlier flight home. In Greece they put my arm in an cast from my shoulder to my hand. When i arrived back in England the house doctor agreed that i needed an operation however after being examined by several other doctors including a doctor who himself had broken the same bone told me to leave it to heal naturally because of the dangers of having an operation i.e nerve damage and risk of infection. So they left my arm in a sling and cast for four weeks. After the four weeks the doctor said there was a calcium formation so decided to put it into a splint. I wore the Splint for a further four weeks and again returned to the hospital. The doctor said there was a callus formation and to come back in four weeks. Subsquently i was told to wear the Splint for a futher two weeks and then just wear my support bandage. I recently returned to the hosptial to be told that my arm has fully healed after 12 weeks of the accident. I would just like to acknowledge that i know how difficult it is waiting for your arm to heal but patience is the key. It is true that people heal at different rates and there were times throughout this experience when i doubted that my arm would heal due to stories which i read on the internet. I would like to say that i discussed some of the articles i found on the internet with the ortho doctor and he agreed that you should never beleive everything which is written on the internet i.e horror stories. I am shortly going to begin pyschio on my arm because my shoulder is still quite shift but after having my arm taken out of the cast i did gradually move it as much as i could because my GP advised me to work my mucles as much as i can. In some ways looking back at the experience now i was quite lucky as i had no nerve or artery damage and have not suffered any real pain. I just like to tell people that are in a similar situation try not to worry as the doctors know best.
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replied October 20th, 2009
i am 30 years old and almost 2 months ago dislocated my left sholder and fractured my humerus bone. I have no insurance and no money to go to a doctor. After the emergency room visit I had my arm in a brace and just recently stopped using it. I can't stretch my arm completely straight and lost nerve damage to my hand. I can wiggle my fingers, but no grip, the upper part of my arm is still swollan and sore. I have been trying to move it alittle and work it out naturally. How long do you think it will take to heal. It is so hard and no doctor will see me without $.....which I don't have. Insurance won't cover my pre existing injury...... no help from anyone ..... it is sad when you are a hard working person working 2 jobs just to keep alive and try to help everyone and when i need it noone wants to help me ...... any ideas on what i can do>?
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replied June 27th, 2011
Experienced User
Fractured right humerus.
Best thing would to leave the United States. I broke my humerus 2 weeks ago. Taken to hospital by ambulance and treated right away. I am in a plaster splint and sling with imobilizing cushion. Given 8 Percocets, to deal with pain. NO CHARGE! I have an appointment with the sureon in the fracture clinic in the morning. I'm hoping he will pin my arm together. It's very disconcerting being able to move my shoulder and my lower arm no responding. I have no power grip in my hand and I'm unable to extend my fingers.
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replied February 20th, 2012
have same problem. if i heal it is 10 weeks my upper humerus feels swollen and sore,yet if i heal will help similar problem in exchange for stable living environment
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replied June 5th, 2012
i am in the same case ..i have been working sine 83 lost my job in 2010 no more unemployment , single very very hard ,,been very serious with my broken humerus in two parts (a big shard). i had a cast for 7 weeks , the doctor told me i am far behind as i barely can move the tip of my fingers...i have now since one week a sling , and my arm cannot bend at all my elbow is like 80 degree ,,i wonder if i could strech my arm ..i know i have a very rare neuro muscular disease called mc ardle type 5 One person per 120 000) and i can lose my muscle ..i feel like i lost my arm it is hard because i am alone , no family here ..anyone had a simllar problem not being able to bend your arm after 10 days after taking off the cast ..would appreciate some answers
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replied December 28th, 2009
Broken Humerous
Hello im 36 years old and was in car accident back in may 09. i broke my right humerous.IT was a clean break but it was a long break broken diagonally. This has been the most painful and frustrating thing ever. i wore a clam shell brace for five months only to find out bone was callousing but not healing altogether...had surgery in Sept 09.Doctor used the metal plate and screws....my bone had started forming bone spurs but he said it was trying but would not heal.So far no nerve damage and have gotten relief from the pain now. On the road to recovery. Hope this helps!!!
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replied January 25th, 2010
humerus broken
i broke my humerus bone last oct. 5 2009. on my first month i was wearing a cast wich runs through my wrist up to my shoulder after two weeks the doc change it with a cast that only runs through my shoulder to my elbow. by then i noticed some clicking and the bones are bumping together. and there was no callus formation at all then the other doctor said to immobilized the arm for two weeks and if theres no callus formation i should go for the operation.then after two weeks they see some callus formation. now i could not tell if my arm is healiing well but my range of motion is quite there even though not 100% and i can fell my arm is still prety weak. i think within a month or so ill go back to normal again if not i go for the operation. just think positive. and by the way its only a bone. while you are still alive wether you like it or not callus formation will be formed.
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replied February 13th, 2010
Broken humerus
Im a 41 year old female and I fell on 27/12/09 and broke my humerus just below the joint under my shoulder hood. I was told that it was best to leave it to heal on its own and was sent home in a sling. I returned to the fracture clinic 9 days laterwith severe bruising and was informed I had in fact 3 breaks and needed surgery to correct it. I went in for surgery another 9 days later where I was told by the surgeon hours before the op that I had made a right mess of my arm and that if they couldn't repair the damage I would need a shoulder replacement. I was also asked by him and other staff if I was an alcoholic!!!! which Im not or if I was in bad health which Im not!! Apparently the break is common in alcoholics and people in bad health. I explained I was neither of these and the surgeon said well if you ever break a bone again I think you need to get it looked into why its happening! I had the surgery which involed a metal plate and pins being inserted, thank god it wasn't the shoulder replacement and Im now going to physio each week as well as doing my own physio. It does get me down especially as I have a 2 yr old I can't dress properly and I can just about dress myself on my own now. I haven't slept more than 3 hours a night since the accident as I can't get comfortable and get muscle cramps but I think its done me good to read these other posts so I know that other people have been through it and got better in time x
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replied March 8th, 2010
hi i broke my humerus 22/5/09 was in a cast and no sign of healing so had an orif at start of sept09 which still didn't heal.i had further surgery 2/3/10 plate and screws and part of my iliac bone put in place now i cant lift my hand because its numb i'm at my wits end.the surgeon says there is no guarantee of success so i can empathise with you ,why did they ask you were you an alcoholic
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replied March 11th, 2010
The surgeon said that the type of break i had was very common in alcohoics apparently. I assured him that I was not an alcoholic and he said that i must just be very unlucky because of the damage i had caused.
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replied March 15th, 2010
I went for the OP
I'm a 47yo male who managed a spiral fracture of the humerus throwing a Javelin 7 weeks ago. Initially in the public health system (spam unapproved) I was sent home from hospital in a brace with plenty of pain killers and told it would heal naturally.

After my own Doctor saw the XRay she had me off to a Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon ASAP - main reason to rule out bone cancer or bone cysts due to the rare nature of the injury.

This ended up being my best move. The Ortho had me in Hospital within a few days and what was expected to be a 1hr Operation turned into 3hrs as he had to carefully extract the radial nerve from the repairing fracture. So in essence for 3 weeks from the accident to Op I was getting worse not better as the nerve became more contused by the fracture.

So the moral of this story is that if the wrist and fingers are still non functional after a long period go down the path of an MRI or have the Op to see what's going on with the radial nerve. Must admit I'm sick of pain killers, valium, endepp and now steroids but at least there's light at the end of the tunnel now.
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replied March 15th, 2010
I broke my humerous completley in half in October 2009 whilst on holiday in cornwall. I was airlifted to hospital where I spent the next 9 days with a nerve block in to control the pain, which was horific! They had me ready for surgery to put a pin from the shoulder to elbow and plate but changed their mind at the last minute as they are concerned about the position of the Radial Nerve and paralysing my arm. I was in a plaster cast for a few months and am now wearing a Humerous Brace and sling. It's now 5 months on and I'm still in terrible pain and I also have Hypersensitivity in all the nerves in my arm, shoulder to hand. On each visit they have been very disapointed with the amount of new bone growth, there is hardly any at all. Today I went for my second physio appointment to be told that they are not willing to treat me while the arm is so bad, they said it's the worse they have ever seen. I don't understand why I have such slow bone growth, I'm a fit and healthy 39 year old woman, so all in my favour. Should I insist on a second opinion re surgery, I just want my life back, it's been the worst 5 months of my life!
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replied April 9th, 2011
I broke my humerus from a fall on the ice 9 weeks ago. It has been the most horrible thing ever. I am 41, non smoker, in good health. I am wearing the clam shell brace since week 1, no surgery. I have been going to occupational therapy for a few weeks and will start physical therapy in 2 days for my shoulder movements. I am really stiff in the shoulder area. I finally have some callus and bone growth. Doctor told me my body needed twice the amount of calcium than normal for the bone to heal. I take 6 calcium pills daily, 325 mg each. I have taken the calcium since the 3rd day after my break. I see it has been over a year since you wrote about your break. Hope you are ok now.
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replied August 22nd, 2012
Shattered Humerus
Oh boy reading all of this does not give me much hope. My humerus was shattered in Italy on vacation and seemed to heal. That was in December 2011. It was just about healed in June. OK, I think I am finished and it refractures. It is not healing and my doctor has just referred me to a specialist for a possible total shoulder replacement. Worst experience of my entire life and it isn't over. Not helpful that I am 65.
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replied March 16th, 2010
Hello to everybody, I had a fractured humerus to, 1/3 distal due to a stupid armrestling accident(no nerve was damaged), it was a spiral break just above the elbow, it happened around 12PM saturday 18 october 2009 in half an hour i was in the ER, they did x ray it looked bad, the distance between the bones slightly big , i had surgery due to the fact it was displaced on the 20 october no plates and screws just two ender nails inserted through my anterior deltoid, the incision was aprox. 2.5-3 cm long, the arm imobilised in a soft Dessault bandage for a month, i had no infections of the bone and no painkillers at all because it did not hurt afetr 2 weeks from the surgery, after an X ray at the 1 month mark the ortho said it was ok to remove the bandage with the advise to start moving the elbow joint and shoulder as much as possible. For about 2 weeks i tried to to these things but i was afraid of overdoing, i made little progress so I decided to go to a PT clinic that specialized in recovery of athlets, in 9 days (5 days a week) my elbow was allmost normal, the shoulder was difficult to recover, I was abble to lift my arm only to the level of my mouth. I forgot to mention that at that clinic i was checked by their doctor and found that my axilary nerve was damaged so the deltoids and teres minor were not functioning (it was only compressed not severd the nerve, i had full sensory of that area), the treatment consisted in 30 minutes of masage , fizio 30 minutes and electro for the muscles that were not working 45 minutes (3 sessions of 15 minutes) wich led to recovery of the nerve in about 3 weeks.
Because the ender nails was in fact obstructing my movement i talked to my doctor and he said if the bone looks ok in 3 months he will remove the nails from my arm, so after the x-ray was made he said it was healed very well and the metal was out, and now I can lift the arm straight up with no pain, in some positions I have little pain but I am working at home to and i am making good progress.
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replied March 17th, 2010
Hi all. I pretty much shattered my humerus in a mountain bike fall on 30 August 2009. My consultant described it as similar to an impact injury as a result of being hit by a car. Technically defined as 'closed comminuted, displaced fracture proximal shaft of dominant left humerus'. It was in four / five pieces but still quite well aligned due to the muscle mass surrounding the bone. I also didn't suffer any nerve damage. Initially my consultant advised conservative treatment of brace. Healing time would be 16-20 weeks.We discussed surgery and his comment was at this stage it would be like putting a jigsaw together and of course there is the risk nerve damage.
Reviews were initially fortnightly, increasing to six weeks and there was promising results in respect of new callus in most of the fracture sites. Physio started at 13 weeks with simple passive mobilisation. However, there was still movement of the fracture at 18 weeks and whilst most of the fracture had healed, there remained a large fracture that was obviously not going to heal without intervention so a decision was made to have surgery. On 1st Feb 2010 I underwent an 'open reduction and locking plate fixation with bone grafting of non union'. To you and me thats a 6" plate and 8 nails which took three and a half hours. I was in hospital just overnight and left with some passive exercises to do to maintain shoulder and elbow flexibility.
At my last consultation about six weeks ago, all seems to be going to plan and consultant pleased with alignment. I only have a mild valgus (a slight bend away from my body) but it’s not expected to cause any functional problems. He also wrote to the Physio dept at my local hospital for outpatient physio as a matter of urgency. I got my date for a first session on 12th April. So much for urgent. But I’ve been proactive and found info on the web and been doing passive exercises as much as possible to improve my range of motion. Its getting there slowly but it’s been a long haul to get to where I am. My shoulder is improved quite a lot but my elbow is slow to respond and I wary of putting too much strain on the plate. Hopefully when I see my consultant again next week I may get the go ahead to do a bit more. Ive just got to make sure the physio has the most upto date x-rays when I go as the one’s I expect they have currently are 6 weeks out of date!
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replied March 17th, 2010
Hi Scottyboy,
Glad things are on the up for you.
I'm five months down the line and still no better, arm "still in half" as the hospital like to say!
I've just called my consultant secretary to get an earlier appointment as I want discuss what they are planning to do as the physio department have refused to treat me while im this bad! They said its the worst they have seeen, makes you feel great doesn't it!
Well I hope I can report back with some more positive news soon. Keep up your good recovery hun! x x x
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Users who thank smileykylie for this post: Scottyboy 

replied March 18th, 2010
Hi Smileykylie,
I found that doing my research and talking to my consultant was helpful. Aside from that he is one of the best I've met, a really nice guy. He's also in my opinion technically very good and specialises in Trauma. I dont know where you are but I guess UK somewhere. I'm in Cumbria but treated in Lancaster. If you do want to go down the second opinion route I'd be happy to PM you his name. Even though there are, as with all surgery some risks,(Ive been left with some nerve dammage from the op, just lack of feeling down my arm from shoulder to wrist, but only across a 1 inch width and I can live with that though I think feeling is returning slowly) I know it's been worth it personally and as you're active I'd push for the op. For my particular case, plate/bone graft my consultant said there is a 95% - 97% success rate - so good odds. On a final note, the stage you're at and I was back in Dec is 'non union' and I was ready to start paying. My consultant did say that if it was him, he wouldnt have gone for op any sooner but it was the right time as it was clear the major break wouldn't heal on its own. Good luck. PS If you want to see my before and after xrays let me know. X
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Users who thank Scottyboy for this post: smileykylie 

replied March 19th, 2010
hiya Scottyboy,
I posted a reply to you yesterday but it doesn't seem to be here.
thank you for replying and its so good to hear your recovery is going well. Im at the point where I don't think I'm ever going to get my arm back, 21 weeks and no change is pretty depressing. I think I've found another consultant that wants to see me,but I do think they all like to have a look as the injury is so rare, did you find that? I'm in Essex by the way and I would love to see your before and after pics, i've also got some rather impressive ones!! Are you on facebook hun? x
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replied March 19th, 2010
Hi smileykylie,
I've only been with one consultant, though occasionally seen by one of his juniors initially. I think that is part of their training but Lancaster is a teaching hospital so I guess you're right about they all like to have a look. You're not alone in being depressed about it. I was in shock and really down. I would say my lowest point was at about 16 weeks when I just knew it wasn't healing on its own. At my initial consultation I was told that it would take 16-20 weeks to heal and that if all went ok I'd be back on my bike 5 months after the break. I'm now looking at July earliest. It's ok fixing the bone but by the time I can use the arm it will have had 9 months of losing muscle. It looks like a twig at the moment. I have / had a facebook account but never used it - I'll try and resurrect it. Im at work at the moment and we've been locked out of social networking sites so I'll have a go later. x
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