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Humerus Fracture in Children: Care Instructions



The humerus is a bone in the upper arm. It extends from the shoulder to the elbow, and it is the largest bone in your child's arm. This bone may break (fracture) during sports, a fall, or another injury. It may happen when your child's arm or shoulder is hit, or if your child uses it for protection in a fall.

Fractures can range from a small, hairline crack to a bone or bones broken into two or more pieces. Your child's treatment depends on how bad the break is.

Your doctor may have put your child's arm in a cast, splint, or sling to allow it to heal or to keep it stable until your child sees another doctor. It may take weeks or months for your child's arm to heal. You can help the arm heal with some care at home.

Healthy habits can help your child heal. Give your child a variety of healthy foods. And don't smoke around your child.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's arm for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's cast or splint.
  • Keep the cast or splint dry. If your child does not have a splint or cast, use a cloth between the ice and the skin.
  • Follow the care instructions your doctor gives you. If your child has a sling, do not take it off unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Be safe with medicines. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Your doctor may advise you to keep your child's arm next to their body. It may help if your child uses a pillow to support the elbow while sitting.
  • Follow instructions for moving the arm and doing exercises to keep your child's arm strong.
  • Have your child wiggle their fingers and wrist often to reduce swelling and stiffness.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child is very sleepy and is hard to wake up.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has increased or severe pain in the arm.
  • Your child's hand is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the hand or fingers.
  • The cast or splint feels too tight for your child.
  • Your child cannot move their fingers.
  • The skin under your child's cast or splint is burning or stinging.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.