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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Week 10

March 3. The bone has improved a lot since the last visit. This 45 degree angle corresponds

to this one, only three weeks ago. Some of the difference could probably be attributed to the brace worn in the earlier picture. The doc said that the body compensates for the lack of bone on one side. I don't completely get it, since it is obvious on the x-ray which bone is new and which is old, and I can't see any balancing act going on. But the difference between these two images explains why my doc was not concerned about the non-straight angle. The body takes care of such imperfections, and even if there is an angle, the elbow joint is extremely flexible and can deal with it.


From the front view the new bone is clearly visible. Again, doc pointed out that the x-ray is two weeks behind what's inside.


I asked him how much it would take to break it again. The answer was "let's not find out." But he told me it would take quite a bit of force. He still thinks I should wear the brace if it's slippery out, but spring is here, so I'll burn my old friend, or perhaps turn it into a piece of art. I've not been wearing the brace while at home for several weeks and not outside for a week. But I'm not sure that the outside is the most dangerous place. There are lots of traps at home: the children's toys and the stairs (I almost fell the other day), not to speak of the shower.

March 5: Encouraged by the good orthopedic news my PT brought the heavy artillery: I can now do two pounds in bench press. Using a bar bell wasn't that hard, worse was doing it only with my left arm holding a one-pound weight. The real weight work will begin when I can raise my arm above 90 degrees. As the doctor said two days earlier, "you and I are not that strongly built," what he meant was: you were weak even before the accident and the recovery would be faster for a body builder. Although, after having just discovered this site, I'm not so sure. Even the bodybuilders seem to come out of a cast or brace with very weak muscle strength and limited joint mobility.

The OT believed my hand and underarm would be fine. I was 4 degrees from stretching it to the same angle as my right arm (175, I think). Active bending of the elbow won't be a problem, she thought, although it's 20 degrees from the right arm's ability right now. I have started to do small easy, but quite effective, tasks: brushing my teeth with my left hand, holding my left hand on the steering wheel in the car, even if I don't have to, holding the phone with my left hand, etc. And best of all, sleep without the brace. I kept using it at night until this week due to fear of night time "events" (not completely unfounded since I've done a few weird things in my sleep).

March 6: another day at the PT gym. The PT thought he saw some biceps growth, but it was just the bone callus. I'm fine with weak biceps and triceps, I rather have more deltoid strength. I'm dying to start swimming again, and if I could stretch out my arm, it would take care of many issues, I think. I'm just waiting for his words: whenever he tells me to exercise my biceps and triceps, I'll go full throttle. I still have my gym membership.

82 comments:

Julián said...

Hi man!!! Good to see you are ok again. I broke my right humerus on february 7th, it is very similar to yours. I have had all this time my arm in a cast, not the normal one but the one with an open channel on the top (sorry for the writing, English is not my first language so I don't know the names of those accesories) Anyway, on tuesday I have to go to pick up my brace. My cast covers from the shoulder to the wrist, by the way my hand and fingers are intact and I can move them perfectly. Bro, the thing is i still can not move my forearm, but it is intact too, I feel perfectly, but since it is not rightly connected to the arm cause of the humerus broke I suppose that is why it doesn't move, I try but not too much cause everytime I do I can feel the pressure on the broken spot so better not to play with it. I was to the doc on wednesday and he said that the soft bone(don't know if that is the real name, anyway, that thing that grows tho repair the bone again) is growing so he sent me to another place to take the mesures for my brace, thanks god, the cast is terrible. Bro, the point is that the brace will only cover my arm area, not the forearm, so my forearm will fall, will I have to use that thing to carry my arm hanging from my neck, wich I am using to carry my arm right now in the cast? Is it normal to feel your bone moving inside, though it moves much less than in the beginning? when will I be able to move my forearm again? Ok bro, thanks for your great blog. I had much more to ask but for the moment I have forgotten, see you man, thanks.

Humerus said...

Hi Julián,

Thanks for your comments and questions! Please remember that I'm not a doctor so take my comments for what they are: someone sharing his experiences.

I wore the sling (the support that keeps the lower arm in a 90 degree angle) for quite a while. Before it was removed, I was able to lose it and move my forearm up and down (but not sideways). If your doctor thinks it's ok to go without a sling, it's a good thing. Even the limited motion stimulates bone growth. But the main issue for recovery will be the shoulder, not the forearm (unless there's some other issues, like nerve damage).

I'm glad it's healing. As you can see from my week 10 x-rays, there's motion even when there is a hard callus (callus that blob-like outgrowth of bone). I could feel the bone ends move for several weeks. It's not a matter of either or: the bones are together or not, since the early callus is made from a rubber like substance, and gradually hardens. My doctor compared the soft callus to that soft texture (cartilage, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartilage) between some bones in a chicken.

Next time I see my doc, I'll ask him why some patients can get a cast (it was never an option for me), while some just a brace. To me, a cast would give more support and stabilize the fracture more.

Mungo J said...

Hi guys,
I brok my right Hum. very close to the sholder on March 2,'09 in 2 places. My Dr. never put me in a cast, only a sling. He wanted gravity to line up the bones. I am so glad for your blog. It gives me hope that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. 8 weeks into this recovery and I can keep the sling off at home now! At age 66 bones don't heal fast. Thanks for keeping me informed to what lies ahead.

Anonymous said...

hi

im a 32 year old female and i broke my left humerus 9 weeks ago. It's not healing well at all. I have already been in 2 casts but apparently they made the break worse, I lost so much muscle that the cast got too large and pulled the bone further apart.

The doctor then suggested I just wear a sling, which i did for a further 3 weeks. When i last visited and got the arm x-rayed there was little improvement so today i have been fitted with a brace, whick i already hate. there is still some pain in my arm and swelling and a very hard lump near to where the break is.

im sick of sleeping upright in the same position, im not getting much sleep at all. infact im struggling to most things. it's such a slow process.

i'm so glad your healing well, your 10 week x-ray is looking good. I can still feel what i believe to be my bones moving so im guessing it can't be fusing too well.

If you have any tips i would be grateful, its driving me crazy now

take care

Humerus said...

Thanks for sharing your story!

My recovery has been mostly about muscles and tendons. The bone healing went according the best imaginable scenario: although not perfectly aligned, it healed very well and there was no nerve damage.

For those lonely and awful nights when I had to sleep sitting up, I simply took a Percocet at bedtime. It helped quite a bit.

Are you sure the hard lump is not the bone callus?

From what I've read, there is a point about two months after the break when the best option is surgery if the ends haven't fused. Your doctor should really be able to determine that by now.

Sorry if I can't be of more help.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Thank you for getting back to me. Maybe the hard lump is bone callus, I'm not totally sure.

I'm going to call my doctor and go back later this week to discuss my options.

I feel like it's never going to heal :-)

Thanks again!

Lil' One said...

So pleased to find this blog!

Hi there

I suffered a spiral fracture to my left humerus about 10 days ago but it already feels like its been weeks!

Like Mungo J, I was only given a sling despite a small piece of bone having broken away - I would of thought that would hinder the bone aligning naturally.

I'm wondering whether I should demand a brace to immobilise the arm even though they said a cast wont help - have others found a cast/brace helpful?

I have also found at I already have difficulty straightening my arm when I take if from the sling and the upper arm is still swollen. I do try and straighten it when its not too painful but I also wonder whether it is advisable to work the bicep with a hand grip as I am scared of losing muscle.

I would love the professionals to provide the answers but all the consultants I seen as well as my GP are as useless as each other.

Thanks

Humerus said...

Thanks for sharing your story!

Did a orthopedic surgeon see the fracture, or just a GP?

The spiral-fracture cases I've read about indicate that they're often easier to treat, because of the larger surface area between the broken ends. But the loose piece of a bone sounds scary. The aofoundation (http://www.aofoundation.org) recommends a brace also for these fractures.

But this patient with a spiral fracture was able to take off the brace after less than two weeks for showers. http://www.adrianbullock.com/brokenarm.html

I would never have been able to do that.

Lil' One said...

Hi there

Thanks for the references.

I have seen the GP, 2 consultants and an orthopaedic surgeon (as well as several nurses and trainee doctors who wanted to take a look at me after seeing the xray!)

I think thats what makes it so frustrating as I am getting more help from people who have had a similar injury rather than from the professionals.

I will go for another xray in a few days and will ask them about my swollen elbow as I haven't heard of that being a symptom for anyone else.

Your improvement has given me hope, though and makes me feel more positive when it is really easy to feel sorry for myself!

Glad you're doing better

Best

Humerus said...

Wow, it sounds like a few too many people involved.

My elbow was quite swollen both before and after the removal of the brace (see my week 5 picture). When I started PT there was quite a bit of liquid stored in the underarm muscles. When I pressed a finger into my muscles, a dent was created that lasted for a couple of minutes. But this problem went away eventually. The normal flow of liquids is of course interrupted by a fracture of such a large bone.

My PTs were always careful and restrained: they didn't want to appear alarmist or overly optimistic. They were more focused on the day-to-day work. That made sense. My doctor on the other hand was always optimistic and downplayed any problems. And he was right in everything he said.

TT said...

Hey all! I had a complete spiral fracture. I had an open cast for two weeks and could still feel the moving of the bones. After the first week I could do light stuff but was worn out very easily. At two weeks I went to the doctor and gravity had not aligned my fracture perfect. He gave me a choice to stay in the cast for possibly another 6 weeks or get surgery and start physical therapy asap. I chose the surgery and had a rod and two nails placed in my arm. I had three small incisions and it took two hours. I was able to start physical therapy that same week. It has now been two weeks since the surgery and I can move my forearm well. I am still working on lifting my shoulder but have some movement. I teach and am happy to be starting school with my students...even though I will have to use an overhead to write on because of my limited shoulder moment. I didn't think that would be possible before the surgery.

Rob said...

Hi, i broke my left humerous in a spiral form (sharp ended bone) and i got surgery, a metal plate with 2 screws. i got sling for 2 week, its been 2.5 weeks now and i still have difficulty moving 2 of my fingers, (thumb and index) and i cant feel my thumb index and middle finger. i also noticed that my skin on my underside of my left hand is extremely dry and if the skin comes in contact with water, it becomes very wrinkly and starts falling off.. im freaked out... wtf is happening to me?

Rob said...

Lil one, and TT. i find it very interesting that you have spiral fractures like i do.
can you please tell me how it happened?

Larry said...

5 days ago I suffered a spiral fracture to my humerous. The doctor put a clam shell brace on my upper arm and I have it in a sling. I am still enduring significant pain.

My options are to continue with this natural healing method, or to opt for surgery.

any advice or comments would be welcome.

TT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TT said...

Larry, I was given those options. I got the surgery (rod not plate). I am very pleased and would make the same decision again... No cast after surgery and immediately start physical therapy to get back into the groove.

Rob, I fell and tried to catch myself.

Larry said...

TT, Thank you for the comment. I am using my boyfriend's Google account to post this. My name is Kathy. I am a hairdresser. If I opt for the surgury, how long do you think it would be before I could return to work? Did you opt for surgury immediately after injury or did you wait a while? Was there a lot of pain associated with the surgury both during and after?

Kitty said...

My boyfrind broke his upper arm it has a plate and staples in it he has the har plastic that was put by op plus was wrapped, we took the wrapping off after 72 hrs he still uses sling but his hand is swollen is this normal? oh he also has bone cancer

Larry said...

its been 9 days since the accident and still sleeping in a chair it sucks 2 b me.. called an attorney

TT said...

I am sorry Kathy. It will be a while. I am still in physical therapy a month after surgery but has improved faster with the surgery. I teach and have to use an overhead to write on. Good luck to you!!!

TT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kitty said...

Thanks Good luck to you all Im 50 and never had a broken bone. I wish the best for all. Take care

Ginny said...

fractured my humerous, one spiral and another break. i am 5 and fell in my own home slipping on reidue from Pledge furniture from the day before. i am right handed so typing and many other things are quie dificult. the first week i hand a half cast w/sling, second week until now week 4, i am in the cam shell type-freedom. still sleeping in a chair. sling is at a 90 degree angle and is raised in an L shape steel bar. no talk of surgery. this week i am getting a new and improved molsded cast and sling-thank you all for sharing-good bless you all-happy healing----ginny-hurting

Anonymous said...

I am so thrilled to find this board, I pray someone is still reading it.

I fractured my humerus on 8/2/09 by falling down a flight of stairs. It was complicated by radial nerve damage. Left arm, and of course I'm left handed, I am 60 years old.

I wore the cast put on in the E.R. for 6 weeks, the bone had not healed, I had some movement of my hand which seemed to please the m.d.

He then put me in a fracture brace for an additional 6 weeks, I'm at the 10 week point now, I'm also using a bone stimulator daily.

I'm discouraged, I never expected this would take so long to heal, I also have the "hard lump" someone mentioned up above.

I feel some progress, but my arm from elbow to wrist is still numb like it's shot up with novacaine, I can raise my arm as high as my nose but no further, it feels like there are tight rubber bands holding it.

Good luck to everyone, I look forward to reading this board, I am typing with 2 fingers on my right hand so I'll register tomorrow, my name is Kate

susan said...

i broke my left upper humerus in 4 places. sept.2009 one month ago. i tripped and fell. went to the ER after X-Rays arm was splinted and wrapped was admitted to have surgery next day and started on iv's and morphine. was told it broke like a piece of chalk the other breaks were spiraled. rod with pins placed from shoulder to the elbow, am still in pain in sling, one week in hospital, allergic to morphine sick for 3 days, hands swelled badly from break and a constraction sleeve was placed on it to help but also swelling of other arm and legs and feet guess of the morphine allergy. had a blood transfusion day 3 due to the surgery lost almost 3 units of blood. started physical therapy in hospital and 3 days a week immediately so i don't loose muscle and get frozen shoulder.took next week off from work then gradually worked my way back from part time on 4th week back full 40 hours. hard to do library job with one arm but adjusting and do it myself. some just don't get shelved as i can't them the books apart. keep arm in sling day but take off at night so arm/elbow doesn't get stiff. i am improving each day but arm/shoulder is still pretty swollen and tender. therapy hurts like heck put it's working. i'm excited i can do a little more each day with sling off but still have to be careful as i am still healing and in a lot of pain. do pendulum exercises 3 times a day. to help with healing. blood circulation etc...and due to the break and anemia was put on vitamin c, sulfuric acid, ferrous sulfate 3 times a day. i do get discouraged because i'm thinking it's been a month i want the pain to stop and be able to lift up my arm as before but still can't lift up my shoulder without help. i sleep elevated with a bed foam and a lot of pillows have to hold my arm each time i roll over to get out of bed because of the puling on my shoulder. was told it will take 3 - 4 months of therapy but due to the severity of the break am doing better than expected. was told this type of break is rare and they haven't really had to deal with therapy on this but have to treat it like a rotator cuff injury with the pendulum and active assistance for them to move the arm.taking a long time for me to type this with one hand.......but it's done :)

Anonymous said...

I skated last Saturday. I resist falling to the floor by using my left arm to hold onto something but I still fell. I felt great pain when my knees fell to the ground and my left arm is still straight holding to the thing. It felt numb for a momment and i can't barely move my left arm. When i try to move it side wards- up its painful i can't even take a shower properly or dress up properly. Im not sure if I have a broken or dislocated bone. I can't see a doctor because i dont have a health insurance. Im just wishing against hope that in 5 days or a week maybe, that i will feel better and the pain will go away, and my arm will be normal again. And I promise not to do any dangerous sports anymore.

Anonymous said...

Hey

Im 18 years old and i broke my R humerus in 3 places. When all the doctors look at it they all go "oooooh you really did a number on that one.

I've been in my brace and sling for 4 and a half weeks. I got back from the doc yesterday and they said they would wait for another 4 weeks to remove it.

The thing is is that sometimes when im at home or in the shower (with my water protecter thingy) i can just let my arm hold it self very comfortably with no sling. Also i have tried lifting my arm a bit on its own and this also feels easy but i darent do much more incase i damage my arm further as i am meant to be going to south america in 7 weeks.

I cant extend my arm very much at all, i can take it out of the sling and using my other hand on its wrist i can extend it maybe to half extension. Is this normal?

Can anyone please respond to this and say whether some of the things i have described are normal/abnormal and answer my questions best you can.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Guy

christi said...

it seems like i broke my arm months ago, yet it has only been 2 weeks. it was broken swing dancing with a forceful partner. i am in a soft cast and sling. the spasms have finally lessened thank goodness. still sleeping upright in chair at night, have difficulty dressing and showering, etc. can not hold anything heavier than a piece of paper in left hand. my dr. is waiting to see if i can heal naturally to avoid surgery. he mentioned the possibility of using a bone stimulator but it is $1500 i think. has anyone on this blog used one? was it helpful?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Lu.I broke my upper left humerus June 7th, slipped at an Indian casino, dance club. I am 52,f. I consider myself to be in good shape, youthful, active.This is the most intense pain and dealing w/frustration of not being able to take care of myself! Anyway,went to UCare next am, told multiple breaks from shoulder to elbow, primarily shoulder. Dr. said lucky ball jt didnt split. He said my bones look weak and would highly recommend surgery, metal plate and screws. Don't have great ins.
Had surgery June 22.Lots of morphine, demerol. Dr wants me to wean off of percocet and take off sling sometimes. Makes me very nauseaus. Helps some w/pain.Was taking darvocet. I hate taking pills.
I can move my arm to my face now, slowly. Can't wash my own hair or carry anything.
I am a pianist,so was recommended to have surgery.
PT starts this week, 14 days aftern surgery. I do light exercises, started 8 days after surgery. Makes me hurt.
Any suggestions or hope of full recovery? Good luck to all. Love the forum. Sleeping is tough isn't it? Worst pain.

Andy said...

I suffered a spiral fracture of my right humerus on 8/201/10. I'm right-handed. I was in a plaster splint for 8 days then switched to a removable6 plastic brace. My forearm and hand are quite swollen but I was told that was expected. I use a sling most of the time. I see the doctor again on 9/28 -- anything I should be sure to ask? We have a trip planned for November, do you think I'll feel like going? I'm using a DROID to surf and type. It has word prediction and that helps a lot. Any advise would be appreciated.
Thanks, Ann

Anonymous said...

Hello,
Tripped, tried to catch myself, fell harder, faster into a car tire/rim hitting my head and arm landing hard on concrete....terrible knot on head.....spiral fracture of left humerus....( INTENSELY PAINFUL.... RIGHT? ) Had surgery next am.....Dr says he used the largest plate and screws he ever had on someone's arm.....and wearing a sling......today is day 8 post-surgery. Been doing slight range of motion PT for hand, wrist, forearm thus far.....upper arm/shoulder remains quite painful......due to allergic reactions to pain meds.....now just using tylenol for pain. I am a 51 yr old diabetic....expect recovery time to be substancial, if ever. I fell several years ago and then developed a case of shingles...DR said from stress to my body......This time .....I have had same virus outbreak on my lower lip ( cold sores/canker sores. extreme swelling of lower lip).....so I still have an egg on my head , a bruised eye, sore lip, painful arm in a sling, and still am having swelling of hand, arm, feet......feel and look like a whipped dog....hope things will start getting better...first Dr appt post surgery still 1 1/2 weeks out.......

DINESH said...

Hi,

I have fractured @ surgical neck of left humerus on 7th Oct 2010. Doc has put only a sling. Left hand in L shape. I cudn't sleep for 4 days.. even now cant sleep well.
Wil anyone share if had similar experience in past & enlighten me abt whole process, time & treatment plz ?

charles said...

HEY 'HUMERUS', SEEING YOU XYAYS AN HOW FAR YOUVE COME HAS MADE ME OPTIMISTIC (YOU DONT UNDERSTAND)..I BROKE LEFT HUMERUS IN A MOTORCYLE ACCIDENT 11/8/10..IT ISNT A SPIRAL BT BT IT ISNT NEARLY AS SEPERATED AS YOURS WAS..I JUST CAME FROM SEEING AN ORTHAEPEDIC SURGEON AND HE SET ME FOR SURGERY THE FOLLOWING NIGHT CLAIMING THAT DUE TO THE SEPERATION IN MY BONES IT WILL NEVER HEAL ON ITS OWN. MEANING HELL HAVE TO DO IN AND PUT A RODIN MY ARM AND CHACE HITTING A NERVE AND ME LOSING FUNCTION OF MY LEFT HAND. NOT TO MENTION THE HIGH RISK HE TOLD ME I HAVE OF NOT WAKING UP FROM ANESTHIA DUE TO MY SIZE.AT 23 ALL THAT IS WAS ALOT TO SWOLLOW, BT I SIGNED TO HAVE SURGERY TOMORROW NIGHT..BUT DOING MY RESEARCH, SEEING YOUR XRAYS AND READING YOUR BLOGS HS ME SECONG GUESSING THIS OPERATION.DID YOU HAVE SURGERY TO HAVE YOUR BONE LOOKING HOW IT DOES AT 10 WEEKS????I UNDERSTAND YOUR NOT A DOCTOR BUT ANY INSIGHT YOU CAN GIVE WILL BE HIGHLY APPRECIATED..GLAD THINGS WORKED OUT FOR YOU TOO

Anonymous said...

hi
broke my upper humerus oct 4th, did the same thing 10yrs alo, same arm, almost same spot.new dr.put arm in a sling, first time wore a shoulder restrainer, not crazy about sling, too much arm movement.slept in chair 7 weeks,if u can call it sleeping. started PT 2 weeks ago,.think it was too soon scared of opening break.feel awful, arm sore hurts to walk the wall. see dr in 2 weeks want re3assurance, if there is any break is healing, if not am going to stop the PT. londoner

Anonymous said...

broke upper humerus oct 4th, now in 8th week, out of sling started PT hurts like heck. slept in chair 7 weeks, does anyone know how much rom can be expected at this stage, cannot lift my arm sidways very high at all, scared I am pulling the break apart............londoner

edrons said...

Hi i broke my left mid-shaft humerus on Dec 11 2010 on ice skating. I now have a sling. I opted for the non-operative treatment to avoid even the 5% risk of radial nerve injury if i do the plate and screws. i hope i did the good choice.
So now i'm in a sling, sleeping sitting upright in the bed (trying), and dependent on my friend's help.
I still feel my bones moving when i move in/out of bed, etc...
it's very hard. Pain is better on the 3rd-4th day.
I want to try to start going out but i can't wear my clothes or jacket. even with the help of my friend, the dresses are big with my sling on... how are you managing to do that ?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a 34 year old female and broke my right humerus on december 10th. The humerus is split down the middle, from top to bottom and I'm shocked at how easy it happened. I wore a cast for a week which was replaced with a brace. The doctor decided not to operate as it would leave me with an extensive scar from the insertion of a plate. I'm happy that it is healing well enough for this option to be considered.
I am in alot of pain but more worrying is my inability to move my arm from the elbow to wrist. The pain is very intense if I try any movement. I'm just wondering if anyone with a similar break can tell me how long their recovery period took.
Also, any help or knowledge on the problems with my elbow pain would be appreciated.
Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a 47 and broke my humerus New Years Eve while ice skating. When I was taken to the emergency room the surgeon told me that there would be a 99% chance I would be having surgery but wanted the swelling to go down so he put my arm in a sling and told me to come to his office on Monday to schedule surgery. On Monday after taking more X-rays he told me that there may be a chance I may not have to have surgery and told me not to move my arm for a week and he would see what happens. When I went back the following week he showed me on the X-ray that the fracture had begun to heal but he also saw a few more hairline fractures at the top of my humerus. He said I still was not out of the woods for surgery and told me again not to move my arm for two more weeks and then he would determine whether I had to have surgery or not. I go back in five days to find out what the outcome will be but what I am starting to notice is that my arm seems to be hurting more as time goes on. I have not bumped it or fallen so why would it be hurting and the pain is not only in the broken bone area but my elbow as well as my wrist. I really do not want to have the surgery so I am Hoping I haven't done something that will cause me to have the surgery.

Anonymous said...

dear annonynous of 18 Jan 11, i too noticed more pain around 3 weeks than previously, but a friend let me know this was quite normal in bone healing.
good luck at your next Dr appt.

i have started my own blog too -
http://fracturedhumerusjourney.blogspot.com/
because i got so much from this one.

Angelie said...

Hi all, good to see this blog, i got my humerus bone broken a week ago and in cast now. Did you guys have swollen hand too when you were in cast? Also feeling constant numbness and tingling. My doctor said it is normal, but I'm afraid of my big hand. Am curious if some of you had the same swollen hand when you were in cast. Please advice. Thanks.

Sandy said...

Wow! I'm bookmarking this blog. You guys are amazing. First off, I'm in Ontario Canada. I feel this is important, as not everyone has the same health care/coverage.

I broke my right humerus on June 18th 2011. It's a clean transverse fracture and the Ortho Dr refuses to do surgery, as the radial nerve is right at the fracture site.I'm in my 5th plaster splint after 9 weeks of healing. Still told to seep sitting up, but have found myself laying down upon waking in the morning. The 2 bones are still cm's apart, but the doctor says he can see bone growth on the xrays.

What do you mean when you say the xrays are 2 weeks behind what is happening? I have xrays each week and can view them before the doctor, 2 min after they were taken.

BTW...I fell backwards off the step to my deck, landing on my elbow, and fracturing my arm, between the shoulder and elbow. I fell about 20" to the ground.

I've researched this fracture and everything indicates that it takes up to 5 months to heal from this, THEN I'll start Therapy!
I have not been allowed to use/bend/straightn my arm/wrist or fingers for the past 9 weeks. My hand started swelling last week, 3 days after getting the newest cast/splint. I have an appointment at the fracture clinic at 8 am tomorrow.

Per said...

Sandy asked: "What do you mean when you say the xrays are 2 weeks behind what is happening?"
I can see now that my comment it's not completely clear. My Dr meant that the xray does not give a completely accurate picture of the healing process. There is typically more happening than what you can see on the picture, that's why the brace can come off although there is only scant hints of new bone.

I'm sorry to hear that you'll have to wait five months before PT. But when it starts you'll hopefully be able to notice progress, if not day by day, at least week by week.

pelican said...

hi thanks for the blog.
My 13 year old son fractured his left humerus. trasverse fracture. He has been on a back slab cast shouder to below elbow for almost 2weeks. Wears a sling. Sleeps reclined. spends most day reclined on couch or bed watching movies.Not too much pain when reclined, but he insists that he can not go back to school yet because he can not sit upright at his desk and his shoulder gets too painful.Also worried about knocks with mates, bus and carrying school bag.
just wondering how long did it take you to return to work?

paulaward53 said...

HI I fractured my right humerus August 16 2011 still in the brace and will be for another 6 weeks. I han=ve a swollen arm and hand and both feet swell up, has anyone else had this happen to them? I go to the Drs tonight but he is very dismissive about things I hope someone is still around to read this it would be nice to get some feedback. Paula

BooBoo said...

Got a midshaft humerus fracture the end of August. Now in week 8 I think. Been wearing a brace for most of that time. Was told to continue wearing it until next appointment 1st of November but got a letter saying it's been postponed until the 8th. So have taken it off which feels better if less safe. Had a mishap and thought I had damaged the healing process so saw doc on Friday for another x-ray but he said all was ok and the bones are still touching with callous between. Told me to wear sling for a couple of days and then allowed to let hand lie on lap when indoors. He also said I could choose to wear or not to wear brace as I feel comfortable. I cannot straighten my arm but I can lift it some and move it outwards. I have lt hang occasionally. It clicks inside sometimes so not sure if bone is safe. Hoping this goes away in the coming weeks so I can do more basic stretching. It feels like something is trying to pop out from behind my arm a lot and my elbow aches. I am guessing it's muscle tendons that have been injured and not used for a few weeks. At least I hope it is. Not going to push too hard just in case though until doc confirms PT. I also have a lump on the outside that is hard to touch. I guess this must be normal since others have it? If you are lucky and callous forms it can take several months for full union to occur apparently. If unlucky the callous never hardens resulting in useless softish material. So even callous forming is no guarantee of a union occuring unfortunately. Good luck to everyone! Especially me! :)

btw I setup a Facebook wall just for this. Just search for 'humerus'.

Anonymous said...

So good to see you are ok :)
I fractured my upper Humeral bone on New Years day snowboarding.

It's almost 4 weeks now. I can feel the bone moving..really not a comforting feeling. I'm not wearing a sling anymore but I'm nervous to start physical therapy.

How long did you feel movement?

Colleen said...

Sorry to hear about your snowboarding accident. I think it was around the 6-7 week point when I stopped having that loose bone feeling while standing, but it took until at least 8-9 weeks before I could lay at an incline in bed without it taking an hour to get comfortable. The bones would shift around in there if I didn't lay perfectly still. If I adjusted at all, then I would have to get up and dangle the arm doing those shoulder circle things to make it go back to the right place. I am sure you know what I am talking about! I agree, losing the sling was kind of scary at first, but liberating after a day or so! Kind of like a security blanket when you have it! Hang in there, I know it's tough, but you are past the real bad part! I actually found therapy to be positive. I guess it depends on who you go to, but my guy was more concerned with the loss of range of motion, and worked on getting that back before any weight lifting. So it was basically stretching. Well, I wish you luck! Before you know it you will be back to snowboarding!!

Debra said...

thank you all for sharing your experiences. I broke my humorous in 3 places, and crushed the ball under the shoulder. It has been very difficult not being able to wash my hair, having help to shower, and not being able to use my right arm.
I am having surgery on Monday, and I was fine with it until I heard that they have to put a tube down my throat during the surgery. Scares me to be under that deep.
Pray for me, I need courage.

Take care,

Colleen said...

Good luck to you, Debra! Hope everything goes well for you and that you have a smooth and quick recovery. Prayers coming your way!

jane said...

I broke my right humerus on Christmas Eve 2011, and spent the night in hospital. I am now in week 8 since the fall, and it is still painful, though the pain shifts around a bit. I was in a cast just up to the elbow for 4 weeks, and befor that a sugar tong cast, wgich is very heavy. Gravity is supposed to do the work! The swelling in my hand and forearm is still quite bad. I now have a brace on, which is a bit more comfortable than tha cast. It seems to be taking forever. I so miss driving! So far, I am too scared to take the brace off. Am trying to keep the fingers moving. They are very stiff. Still sleeping upright. 63 yr old female, normally very active.How long will it all take?

lis said...

this blog has been so helpful to me, when i'm feeling down, or have symptoms i don't understand. i am just into week 7.i fell carrying a step ladder, bad diagonal break near the shoulder, they thought i would have to have surgery, but thankfully they decided to wait and see if it heals by itself. so far it appears to be doing that, callus is visible on x-rays, but bone is not joined yet.
i have just got a bone healing stimulator, so that should help. i'm 66 so my age is going to be against a fast healing. the worst thing is sleeping upright, because i can't sleep much at all,
and not driving. i'm lucky as after all the swelling bruising you all experienced too, i have some mobility, can't use my arm to hold or do anything yet.
but when i look back to 5 weeks ago there is a lot of improvement, it just feels very slow! hang in there everyone.

Ramon's Nanny said...

Fractured my left humerus in Jan 2012 on Friday the 13th. I feel I am coming along. I did not need surgery and had a sling. How long til I would be able to run. There are some races I am interested in April

jane said...

My accident was on Christmas Eve 2011, and X rays now show it is healing well. The consultant said I can take the brace off, and start using the arm as much as is comfortable. I have just learnt from my GP, that I will have to wait 4 weeks for physiotherapy on the NHS! Is this normal? I have read about some exercises online, but don't want to overdo it. What do people think?

colleen said...

Sorry to hear of all of your breaks. Jane and Lis, hang in there, I know that sleeping upright thing had to be the worst part about the whole thing for me. I think it was 6 weeks before I moved back into my bed at an incline. Not sure about the PT and why they would wait. Maybe your they don't think the break is healed enough? Not sure what to say, but I can say that once I started, it was so nice to have that shoulder and arm gently stretched with range of motion exercises.

Ramon--I was back to running at about 9 weeks. At first it felt like shock waves coming up through my break, but that went away quickly and didn't really hurt. I bought a Tommie Copper compression sleeve for running and that helped a lot. To everyone--I am almost 4 months out and I am functioning normal, as if I never broke it. I think what really helped me get better so fast was super clean eating (no processed white flour, white sugar, mostly whole foods and organic when possible.) I also took lots of supplements. Hard to tell if those measures helped me, or if I would have healed up that fast anyway, but it certainly didn't hurt me any, and I lost weight in the process! I wish you all the best of luck in your healing. Everyday should get you a little closer to your original self!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I had a humerus break about 6 weeks ago. I have no insurance. I have stopped wearing the sling. However, my break seems much better but the shoulder(rotator cuff) is still very painful. How soon after removing the sling, can I start my own PT. What should I do. Help.

Anonymous said...

I broke my left humerus at the neck right below the shoulder ball. I was in a car accident while on vacation. The other car ran a red light. I am in a sling that goes around my body and stabilizes the humerus and holds my and in place. Amazingly I can sleep in bed with the pillows arranged just right. I hate the feeling of the bones moving. We flew back home on Friday so now have to see an ortho here. How often did you all get xrays to check your progress? I hate being dependent on my husband for so many things. If I only knew that in 2 months it will be healed I could deal with. I just feel bad for all of you. But this too shall pass.

jane said...

I tried to post this comment about two days ago, but it doesn't seem to be anywhere, so apologies if it is. My main problem now is the pain and stiffness in my hand. they did warn me, and I have kept them moving. It is 10 weeks now since the fall. Has anyone else had this burning sensation in the palm, and real pain in their hands?
I have stopped taking painkillers.

Anonymous said...

This website is great. I've got so much out of this site from ppl who are going through or have gone through this same ordeal. I'm a 37 y.o. male and I broke my left humerus 5 weeks ago. They opted for non-operative approach as I had minor radial nerve palsy. They fitted me with a heavy U-slab cast on for the first four weeks and now have a more comfortable light weight brace on. The last time I saw the doctor was in week 2 and he was happy with both the alignment and gap between the broken bones. Some tiny evidence was visble on the xray of callus. My next appointment is in two weeks. I'm hoping to see some evidence of new bone in the X-Rays.

The first two weeks were the worst. I had the sick feeling that my arm was moving when it wasn't. That went away after week 2. I've had no pain since the arm was properly positioned in the cast (day 2). Its quite remarkable, they've given me pain killers but I've never had to use them.

I have radial nerve palsy but its only minnor. I can move my wrist and thumb without any problems but my second and third fingers still won't extent fully. I exercise my hand and fingers daily and can see a slight improvement. I also have swelling of the elbow like a few ppl have mention on this site. I haven't moved my arm from the sling in 5 weeks but can't wait to do so as my arm muscles are starting to ache. I've been eating well and minimised moving my arm as much as possible. My arm feels stable and connected. I think this week it has stiffen up somewhat and that gives me confidence that it is healing.

First step is the visable bone union on the xrays and then comes PT. One step at a time.

"Everyday, and in everyway, I'm getting better and better" Inspect. Dreyfus

Anonymous said...

Broke my left humerus one week ago walking in ski boots in the lodge. Rising from the sitting position, which is also now the sleeping position, is the most painfulas it seems to move the fractured bones around. From the vertical position I have very little movement in any direction. This has been a very painful injury but I hope it is lessening somehat. Went from a coaptine brace for 4 days to a fiberglass brace from the shoulder top to elbow. It is good to read success stories on this blog and to appreciate that others have had similar symptoms.

Anonymous said...

Hi all. Thanks for your stories. I hit the 4 week mark today. Doctor opted for no surgery so I have a sling and swath. Still taking Motrin. For sleeping my doctor said some people like lazy boy chairs. I bought one for $50 on Craigslist and sleep in it every night. It helps me get to 45 degrees. I love it. I also got the bone stimulator as insurance pays 80% for me. I hope it works but too soon to tell...

Anonymous said...

I also forgot to say that forearm and hand are swollen and stiff. I wish I had been moving my fingers more...

Anonymous said...

I broke my left humerus at the neck right below the shoulder ball as well. It has been 12 weeks now and I have experienced the same as many here. It has been a long slow recovery to say the least. I still have so much pain, and try to sleep at night is very difficult. I can't lay down due to spasms, and knife sharp type pain kicks in. Sitting up with arm resting on a pillow works the best.

Anonymous said...

Hi on the 3rd March I managed to fall over and diagnosis in hospital was 2 spiral fractures right humerous worst being mid shaft. The pain nearly took my breath away it was the worst pain I have ever experienced. In hospital for 5 days on all sorts of pain killers. Saw a surgeon who said what do u want to do have surgery or try non operative management. After he told me the risks of surgery huge scars maybe nerve damage I thought no way I will try the brace first. He said that if I had the operation it would heal alot quicker etc. No thanks. I must admit my lower and upper limbs have been very painful now week 5 stopped all painkillers. I was seeing a hand therapist at week 2 who said if I did not start exercising the elbow to fingers they would not straighten properly again. Well I started exercising every hour it hurt so much to start with. Week 5 I can now lift the lower limb up to the shoulder. Just started different exercises with my fingers using stuff like playdough. This has really helped so much as my arm just hung limp to begin with it's really scary but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm going to have xrays in 2 weeks and surgeon will let me know Progress but I will have op if I have too. I'm pretty positive I won't need one. The brace will then come off and I think the real work begins. He said would take 6 to 12 months for complete movement. There is hope as it's awful at first u can't dress yourself, shower, drive and it can get you down. I had a couple of mini meltdowns as your independence is taken away you can't drive or exercise and it's just so frustrating in every way. I really think that at one stage I think I had mild depression.I have a laugh about it as people always ask what happened to your arm helps me feel better. However take this time out and try to relax and maybe catch up with friends. As they say sometimes things happen for a reason I appreciate life alot more.Trying to sleep at night in a sling and brace was difficult but I got used to it. I had so much swelling and bruising takes about 6 weeks to go. Hope this helps anyone out there who has just been diagnosed as it is a real shock. I do alot of computer work and typing at work does anyone know how long it takes to be able to move your upper limb to the shoulder and start typing again???

Anonymous said...

Tim said... My wife Teresa sustained a spiral fx of her left proximal humerus following a fall while hiking. We consulted with an orthopedist who prescribed a clam compression brace. The brace has markedly reduced her pain, not completely but to a significant extent. We are early on in the course of her injury so outcome is still to be determined. There is another factor which is usually completely overlooked-nutritional support for bone repair. I have been practicing nutritional medicine for 30 years with emphasis on musculoskeletal injuries. If you have a humeral, or any bone fx, you might consider the following regimen: Vitamin D (it grabs calcium from the gut and transports it to the blood}, Calcifood wafers, (cold processed raw bone with all the enzymes,protein and calcium specific for bones}, and finally essential fatty acids (they transfer calcium from the blood into the tissues-muscle and bone}. This can do nothing but facilitate the bone repair process. I am amazed that orthopods don't emphasize this to complete the treatment program.

Teresa said...

Dear anonymous of April 7th 4:08 AM
Typing for my mother Teresa: She found your entry very encouraging and helpful. She wants me to thank you :)

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 7th of April
What an inspiration I hope you get a lot of support from your family and friends as this is the key to recovery
As I suffered from a compound fracture of tibia and fibia and had muscle and skin grafts over 2 years to save my leg and spent 8 months in hospital
You have kept your chin up and risen to the
challenge which is a fantastic achievement well done
From a concerned citizen

Anonymous said...

Thanks Teresa if it can just help 1 person that's great. Your mum needs heaps of support from you family and friends to help her get through. Something else that helped me was week 4 I started walking again 3 times a week for 40 mins a friend takes me out walking we have a coffee half way. I was frightened at first as I was scared of falling over and doing more damage but now I look forward to getting out in the fresh air. Reading is great therapy and if some friends pick her up and take her out this will help as well. What put things into perspective for me was when a friend and her sister who is blind took me out for lunch I then thought I am so lucky I have nothing to complain about. Will report back in 2 weeks, week 7. This happened to me for a reason and I will learn from this to appreciate life more. Tell your mum hang in there also I am 46 and I will get a bone density test as well. Mandy

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tim I'm sure your right. Nobody has said a word about supplements or even diet for that matter which does surprises me. My husband has mentioned supplements and said I should have a done density test. I also really believe that exercise as soon as allowed is vital to stop stiffness and to get the lower limb and fingers moving. The break still hurts at times but I think the real pain will start when the brace comes off and the exercising starts. Let me know what happens with your wife as we all need support. I will speak to the surgeon about supplements as I agree with you. Thanks

SueRKeller said...

Not a club I want to be in, but I broke my humerus two weeks ago. I found this website and comments very helpful and company for my misery. Anyway in regards to the swollen hand, this seems to be common and does subside in time, my doctor was not concerned about this. Regarding a past post about swollen feet, I had this too. I think this happened because I was sleeping on my couch in an upright sitting position with my feet on the foor. Once I started to elevate them and do some walking (laps around my house), this went away. I am able to sleep in a bed now , with a pillow under my arm, I can get comfortable and sleep. This from a stomach sleeper! The healing continues and I too hope I can forego surgery. Happy healing everyone !

lis said...

I'm now in week 17 (last posted on week 7) Began sleeping in bed around week 10, has been using 1 percocet at night to help with sleeping upright, was very difficult to stop taking even that 1 tablet a day, I was restless and quite sleepless for 3 days. I have been using the bone stimulator, callus is visible on 16th week xray. I've been doing PT, but now have tendonitus, I think they have pushed me do do too much, I had good range of movement, but the inflamed tendons have slowed that up. Not much strength yet, but improving. My next orthopedist appointment is in 8 weeks, I had been seeing her every week, so this is good, and she has been wonderful. Boy this broken humerus was something much worse than I would have thought, scared I'll break something again! Good luck everyone!

Anonymous said...

Week 7 Surgeon very happy with the healing process. I opted for non-operative and was fitted with a samiento brace and sling. Now able to take brace off but only at home I still have to sleep in it and wear it when I go out. Be another month before I can lose it altogether. More xrays in another month. Just started physio on upper arm 3 or 4 times a day. It hurts alot doc has put me on pain relief. I really feel for everyone on this blog as it's not an easy journey. The worst part is not being able to drive I really miss it and my independence. Its great to read other people's stories. It does get easier as time goes on.

Anonymous said...

I broke my right humerus 9 days ago and had a very swollen right hand. Before sleeping, I've started putting my arm on a pillow so it's elevated, and now all the swelling is gone. I start by standing so my arm (in a brace and sling) moves away from my abdomen. I put a pillow between my arm and chest, straight up to my armpit. Then I lie back slowly.

Anonymous said...

I suffered a distal humerus fracture six weeks ago to my right arm (am right handed too). After reading some of the stories on here I'm quite glad my only option was surgery despite the huge scar I was left with. I had a plate and 9 screws inserted. Had my 6 week check yesterday and my surgeon is very pleased with how the bone has healed and how much my arm has straightened already. Will probably never get completely straight again though. Have a long way to go with the bending movement still so hopefully that will come along with physiotherapy. I long to be able to drive again. I have at least another 6 weeks before this though. I have had my first day out of the collar/cuff sling today and can't believe how incredibly heavy my arm feels. I have found it quite amazing to read the recovery stories of others. Can't believe it has taken me this long to find this blog!!

Anonymous said...

Did you have any radial nerve damage? I too have a distal fracture but it was only 1.5 weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

My 13 yo son has a spiral fracture at the mid point of the humerus. This happened 1 week ago. When we saw the GP and the x-rays, the GP was saying that he was almost certain he would need surgery. We saw the ortho surgeon the next day and he said that he felt the bones were lined up enough and he did not feel that surgery was necessary. They put a clam shell brace on his shoulder/humerus and gave him a sling to wear at school and public places. Otherwise, he is supposed to go without the sling. We went to the ortho surgeon yesterday and he re-x-rayed. At one angle you could see healing already, but at the other the bone was still sticking out. He said that it was ok and that a calcification would occur between the break and the bone and it would heal. We go back in 4 weeks now and he is to continue wearing the clam shell all the time and the sling only when not at home. He can bend his elbow toward himself, but really cannot straighten his arm out much. He is supposed to move his arm until it begins to hurt. Does anyone else have this range of motion issue and if so did it improve in time? This has all been scary to me because you really have to trust in something you know nothing about. It has been a relief to read other's situations to see that my son's treatment is very similar to others.

Cinnamongirl63 said...

Broke my humerus when I was on vacation in Jekyll Island GA on a trail ride on Nov 20 and my saddle slid sideways throwing me to the ground and I broke my humerus in half. Finally got back home and Im still in the plastic brace that the GA doctor put me in and a sling which looks like somwthingthey may have given tOM Sawyer. Or Huck. Im in my 7th week and not a whole lot of pain, I still sleep on couch but i TAKE my arm out of sling alot and can move my forearm. My next dr appt is in 15 days and dr. will determine if surgery is necessary. Im hoping not. Went to work immediately as i work from home and can type with my left hand somewhat though I am righthanded. This really has given me alot of respect for life before (my 1st) broken bone. I also feel bad about laughing at kids in casts while in grade school! Karma sucks. Could have been worsre, I keep thinking of Christopher Reeves. Take care all and happy healing.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Broke my lower distal humerus in 6 places playing rugby about 2 months ago. Plate and pins were put in during surgery to stablise the bone and fragment. I was put into a full arm for 2 weeks following the surgery which was changed every 5 days as my swelling decreased. After two weeks I was put into a hinged full arm cast for about a week to allow some elbow movement.

Having had the cast of for about a month, I can honestly say I'm amazed at how much movement I have about 85% - I don't think I will ever regain the 15% movement as it seems the metal plate is the only residing restricting factor. My arm aches in the morning and when I over use it - probably due to it still being "broken" - but the plate is doing a great job at supporting it.

I have a long road of physio ahead to regain the strength and mass I have lost but I must admit this injury has not had as dramatic an effect on my life as I first thought it would.

All the best in your recovery.

Marc

Aurelio Torres said...

My 2 year son broke his right huermus it's been six days and his arm and hand is still swollen is this normal??? Phase can someone tell me...

andrew Suggett said...

I broke my right humerus (SPIRAL FRACTURE) 11 weeks ago, a brace and sling was used.
At week 8 my orthopedic doctor reviewed the X-RAY and started PT, my first PT the therapist knew the union had not happened, back to the expert ?
"Lets try the bone stimulator".
Insurance approve, my out of pocket $1500.
What should i do ???????

Prakash GR said...

Hi,

unfortunately i had gone 3rd surgery(within 9 months) on my broken humerous bone with bone grafting and putting plate but after 14 days of surgery dactor renoved the stiches and now my left hand near the operated place swelling started, is it normal?
any inputs appreciated

Thanks
pgr

Anonymous said...

Hi,,
I broke right proximal humerus bone 15th juli in 3 places when i riding my motorcycle,, my doctor said no operative needed because the fracture was minimal displaced. He said the bone can back to normal position due gravity. So i only used cast for 3 weeks, and sling for 4 weeks. The x ray on 4 weeks shows my bone was back on normal position. The dokter said i only can use passive movement between 4-6 weeks, and acttive assited movement og my shoulder between 6-8 weeks. After 8 weeks the callus already harder, so i ca. Begin active movement of my shoulder..

rhiannon said...

so nice reading these stories, would love to know how people are doing now.
It's been 3 weeks for me. Initially in a cast of my forearm and elbow, now in upper arm brace and sling. Fed up and frustrated but at least there is no nerve damage and I dont seem to need an op.