A broken—or fractured—bone is a serious injury that is usually a major setback. Depending on how badly the bone is broken, it can take weeks or even months to heal completely, and patients often have difficulty completing many everyday activities during this time as a result. Fractures of the upper arm bone (humerus) are no different, but New York City physical therapy can help speed up this recovery process regardless of whether or not surgery is needed to treat it.
The humerus is the long bone in the upper arm that connects the elbow to the shoulder. The distal end of the humerus connects to the elbow, while the proximal end connects to the shoulder joint. Due to its location, the humerus is used quite frequently in the majority tasks that require movement of the arms. For this very reason, though, it is also at risk injury if an accident involves the arm in any way.
Fractures of the proximal humerus typically occur as the result of some type of sudden trauma. The most common example is a fall in which a person lands directly on their shoulder, while other possible causes are forceful collisions and more complicated events like car accidents. In all cases, the bone experiences a massive force that is too great for it to handle, and it breaks as a result.
A proximal humerus fracture can range from mild to severe, and the position of the arm and the body, as well as the type of trauma, will determine how bad the break is. In these types of injuries, bones and other structures in the shoulder region may also be injured if the force is strong enough. The rotator cuff, for example, which is a group of muscles and tendons that protect and secure the shoulder, can be torn during humerus fractures.
New York City physical therapy needed regardless of treatment
Symptoms of a proximal humerus fracture include pain, swelling, bruising, numbness and restricted shoulder motion, which can severely prevent patients from completing many activities that require arm movement. Immediate treatment is therefore necessary. Surgery may be needed if pieces of bone at the site of the fracture are separated and shifted out of position, while other fractures may not require surgery.
Regardless of whether or not surgery is needed, New York City physical therapy will play a major part in the recovery process. If surgery is recommended, a physical therapy program will typically begin 1-4 weeks after the procedure. In non-surgical cases, physical therapy can start soon after the injury has occurred. In either case, physical therapy will usually consist of the following components:
- Stretching exercises: your physical therapist will assess your shoulder motion and then lead you through a program of various stretching exercises to restore the function of your shoulder
- Strengthening exercises: weakness of the muscles in and around the shoulder is another major problem after a humerus fracture, so these exercises will help you to gradually build back strength in this region
- Manual therapy: in this type of treatment, your physical therapist will gently move your shoulder joint and surrounding muscles in order to improve their motion, flexibility and strength
- Functional training: if you are an athlete or have a job that requires shoulder motion, your therapist will train you to move your arm and shoulder in the safest and most efficient manner possible, which will reduce your risk for future injuries
A fractured humerus is an unpleasant injury that usually takes a significant amount of time to heal completely, but New York City physical therapy from Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy can drastically reduce the amount of time needed for recovery. If you’re dealing with this type of injury or any lingering pain, we can help. Call us at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on humerus fractures.