Proximal humerus (upper arm)

The shoulder (also known as the glenohumeral joint) is a ball and socket joint located where the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) meets the glenoid socket. A proximal humerus fracture, also called a broken shoulder, is a common injury affecting the upper part of the arm which forms the rounded ‘ball’ section of the shoulder joint.

How is a fracture caused?

Fractures of the upper arm bone are usually caused by a collision or a fall onto the hand when the arm is straight.

What are the symptoms?

Pain, bruising, swelling of the shoulder and limited movement are typical symptoms of proximal humerus fractures.

How is it diagnosed?

Having discussed how your shoulder was injured and carefully examined the area, the specialist’s diagnosis is usually backed up by an X-ray and, in some cases, a CT or MRI scan to show the extent of the damage.

How is it treated?

Non-operative treatment: the majority of fractures will heal without surgery. You may be advised to wear a sling and take anti-inflammatory medication, along with stretching exercises as mobility returns.

Surgery: if the fracture has caused the bones to move out of place (become displaced), then you may need surgery to realign and hold the bones in place with screws and plates to ensure they heal correctly.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.

Arthroscopy allows surgeons to use a type of keyhole surgery to diagnose and treat joint problems.
Shoulder replacement surgery is not as common as knee or hip replacement, but can be very effective in relieving joint pain and helping people to carry on with everyday activities.
Used for treating calcific tendonitis of the rotator cuff, this outpatient procedure uses ultrasound technology

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