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Humerus Fracture: Care Instructions



Your humerus is a bone in your upper arm. It extends from your shoulder to your elbow, and it is the largest bone in your arm. This bone may break (fracture) during sports or a fall. It may happen when your arm or shoulder is hit or used to protect you in a fall.

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

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

You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

Follow-up care is a key part of your 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 you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

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

When should you call for help?

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

  • You are very sleepy and you have trouble waking up.

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

  • You have increased or severe pain in your arm.
  • Your hand is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your hand or fingers.
  • Your cast or splint feels too tight.
  • You cannot move your fingers.
  • The skin under your cast or splint is burning or stinging.

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

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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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.