What is a humerus fracture?

The humerus is the bone of the upper arm. A fracture or break in the humerus generally occurs secondary to trauma, commonly from a fall from a standing height, but in some cases with higher energy.  These fractures can be simple 2 part fractures, but in some instances, the bone can fracture in multiple places. These breaks can either occur at the top of the humerus (proximal humerus fracture), in the middle (humeral shaft fracture) or at the bottom, near the elbow (distal humerus fracture).

What are the symptoms of a humerus fracture?

Patients develop immediate pain and swelling and there can be a visible deformity or prominence of the fracture end under the skin. There can be associated damage to the nerves and blood vessels. The patient will have limited use of the arm in the acute phase and continued pain and potentially poor function until the fracture heals.

How is it diagnosed?

It is diagnosed by taking a careful history and performing a detailed examination. There are also other associated injuries of the shoulder including scapula fractures which can occur with any trauma in this area. X-ray, and CT imaging in selected cases, can be useful to exclude other potential injuries and to further assess the fracture particularly in cases where surgical management is required. The investigations will help to inform the clinician and patient regarding the most appropriate treatment.

How is it treated?

Treatment begins with symptomatic management such as pain killers, with the use of a sling for support and in immobilising the fracture.

The displacement of the fracture and the location and the degree of associated trauma help to guide the patient and clinician with regards to the need for surgery. The demands of the patient both for their occupation and for sporting activities are a key component of making this decision.

The location of the fracture will guide this and the treatment options vary from sling management, humeral bracing, and surgery with either internal fixation with a plate, intramedullary nail or even shoulder or elbow replacement in some cases. Surgery can provide the patient with a more predictable and earlier return to work and sporting activities. When indicated It can lead to decreased pain, improved range of movement and function. Postoperative physiotherapy is essential to ensure the best outcome from surgery.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or is experiencing pain in their shoulder or difficulty with moving the shoulder, arm or elbow and would like a consultant-led review, please contact us. Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of ACJ injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of should & elbow -related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow conditions click the button below to find out more


If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow treatments click the button below to find out more

our specialist shoulder and elbow consultants

Shoulder and Elbow care at Grosvenor Orthopaedics is led by our consultant surgeons Mr W James White and Mr David Butt, both graduates of London medical colleges. They bring extensive experience to Grosvenor Orthopaedics having worked across Guys NHS Trust and the world renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Our team have broad experience in the successful treatment of a range of shoulder and elbow problems, addressing both young and sports related injuries as well as those relating to trauma, disease process and genetics.

Patients who choose Grosvenor Orthopaedic Partners for their treatment will receive some of the best care available in the UK. Our team are leading consultants across London’s shoulder and elbow clinics and offer specialist care to our private patients through King Edward’s Hospital, HCA Lister and other major private hospitals in central London.

Our team are well placed to manage and treat a diverse range of shoulder and elbow problems utilising cutting edge diagnostic technology and treatment approaches, both surgical and conservative. Below is an overview of some of the conditions we treat but for a more thorough understanding please contact our team here


Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MBBS, BSc(Hons)
James is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, King Edward VII’s, The Lister Hospital Chelsea and HCA Chiswick Outpatient Clinic. His practice encompasses all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery including arthroscopy, arthroplasty and trauma. He has a reputation as a thorough clinician, effective communicator and skilled surgeon. Through joint decision-making with the patient and utilising non-operative techniques where possible, he achieves the best possible outcomes for patients. When surgery is required, James has excellent outcomes based on his precise and prepared approach to operating.


Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MSc, MBBS, BSc(Hons)
David is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at the world-renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore, King Edward VII’s Hospital and One Hatfield. His practice involves all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery, from minor injuries to complex reconstructive procedures. He strongly believes in shared decision making and a patient-centred approach to treatment. He is a meticulous surgeon using up to date and evidence-based techniques to treat every patient’s individual needs.

What some of our patients say

Mrs JS

Thank you to the whole team for getting me back on my feet again