Proximal Humerus Fracture

A proximal humerus fracture, also known as a broken shoulder, is an injury that is common in elderly individuals over the age of 65. Occuring at the head of the humerus (the “ball” of the shoulder’s ball-and-socket), most fractures are non-displaced (out of position). However, up to 20 percent of fractures are displaced and require invasive treatment.


Proximal humerus fractures are usually the result of a fall or direct impact. Weakened bones from aging or conditions such as osteoporosis can also cause bones to break more easily.


The most common symptoms of a proximal humerus fracture are severe pain, bruising, swelling, and inability to move the arm. In some cases, deformity may also be noticeable.


In order to diagnose a proximal humerus fracture, physicians will ask about symptoms and conduct a physical exam. X-rays will also be used to identify the extent of the injury.


Treatment depends on the level of severity. In the 80 percent of proximal humerus fractures that are non-displaced, a sling and physical therapy are often effective. However, if the bone is out of position (displaced), surgery may be required to realign and anchor the bones or replace the joint.

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