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Dr. Chloe Baker - Jul 17, 2023 - 7 min read - 1k Likes

How Long Does a Distal Humerus Fracture Take to Heal?

A distal humerus fracture is a break in the bone at the end of the humerus, which is the upper arm bone. This type of fracture is often caused by a fall on an outstretched arm, or by a direct blow to the elbow. You’re going to get your answer how long does a distal humerus fracture take to heal.

The healing time for a distal humerus fracture can vary depending on the severity of the fracture, the patient’s age and health, and the type of treatment they receive. In general, however, most distal humerus fractures take about 6 months to heal completely.

What Happens During the Healing Process?

The healing process for a distal humerus fracture can be divided into three phases:

  • Inflammation:

    This phase begins immediately after the fracture occurs. The body’s immune system responds to the injury by sending white blood cells to the area to clean up any debris and start the healing process. During this phase, the patient may experience pain, swelling, and bruising.

  • Proliferation:

    This phase begins about 2-3 days after the fracture occurs. During this phase, new bone cells are formed to start repairing the break. The patient may still experience some pain and swelling during this phase, but it should start to improve.

  • Remodeling:

    This phase begins about 6 weeks after the fracture occurs. During this phase, the new bone is remodeled to its original shape. This phase can take up to 2 years to complete.

Treatment Options

There are two options for distal humerus fracture treatment:

  • Nonsurgical treatment:

    This option is typically used for stable fractures in which the pieces of bone are not out of place. The patient’s arm will be placed in a splint or cast for 6-8 weeks to allow the bone to heal.

  • Surgical treatment:

    This option is typically used for unstable fractures or fractures that have been displaced. During surgery, the bone fragments are repositioned and then held in place with plates, screws, or other implants. The patient’s arm will be placed in a cast or splint for 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Recovery

After the fracture has healed, the patient will need to start physical therapy to regain range of motion and strength in their arm. Physical therapy typically begins about 2 weeks after surgery or after the cast or splint is removed. The patient will gradually increase the range of motion and strength in their arm over the course of several months.

Complications

There are a few potential complications that can occur after a distal humerus fracture, including:

  • Infection:

    This is a rare complication, but it can occur if the bone is not properly cleaned or if the cast or splint is not kept clean.

  • Nonunion:

    This is a condition in which the bone does not heal properly. This can happen if the fracture is not properly aligned or if the patient does not follow their treatment plan.

  • Arthritis:

    This is a condition that can develop in the elbow joint after a fracture. This is more likely to happen if the fracture is not properly aligned or if the patient does not regain full range of motion in their arm.

You may like to read  more details about  Distal Humerus Fracture Recovery

Outlook

The outlook for patients with distal humerus fractures is generally good. Most patients are able to regain full function in their arm within 1-2 years. However, it is important to follow the treatment plan carefully and to participate in physical therapy to maximize the chances of a good outcome.

Tips for Recovery

Here are a few tips for recovering from a distal humerus fracture:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. This includes taking any medications as prescribed, wearing the cast or splint as instructed, and participating in physical therapy.
  • Listen to your body. If you are feeling pain, stop the activity and rest.
  • Be patient. It takes time for the bone to heal and for you to regain full function in your arm.
  • Don’t give up. With time and effort, you will be able to return to your normal activities.
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Dr. Chloe Baker - Author

I am Dr. Chloe Baker, an accomplished Orthopedic Oncologist dedicated to the specialized field of bone tumor diagnosis and treatment. With a profound commitment to patient care and a comprehensive understanding of musculoskeletal oncology, I bring 9 Years of experience in managing both benign and malignant bone tumors.

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