Distal Humerus Fractures


Elbow Anatomy

The elbow is a region between the upper arm and the fore arm. The elbow joint is made up of 3 bones. The distal (lower) end of the humerus bone in the upper arm joins with the radius and ulna bones in the forearm to form the elbow joint. The elbow joint is very important for the movement of your arms and coordination of daily activities.

What is a Distal Humerus Fracture?

Injury in the distal humerus can cause impairment in the function of the elbow joint. A distal humerus fracture is a rare condition that occurs when there is break in the lower end of the humerus. The treatment of distal humerus fracture aims at restoration of normal anatomy.

Causes of Distal Humerus Fractures

A distal humerus fracture may result due to a fall. This occurs more often when you land directly on your elbow during the fall or when you get struck by a hard object. It can also occur when you fall on your outstretched arm with the elbow locked straight.

Symptoms of Distal Humerus Fractures

Distal humerus fractures are usually very painful. The other symptoms are swelling, bruising, stiffness, tenderness, severe pain and inability to move the arm.

Diagnosis of Distal Humerus Fractures

Distal humerus fractures are generally considered an emergency condition. Your doctor might examine the skin to check for any cuts and feel it to determine the presence of broken bones or injuries. Your doctor might recommend an X-ray examination to determine the depth (intact or broken bones) of the fracture.

Treatment of Distal Humerus Fractures

Distal humerus fractures can be treated by both non-surgical and surgical methods based on the intensity of the fracture.

Non-surgical Treatment for Distal Humerus Fractures

If the fracture has not caused displacement of the bone, then your doctor might apply a splint (casting) and you may be required to wear a sling until complete healing and recovery occurs.

Surgical Treatment

Your doctor may recommend surgery if the fracture has led to the displacement of bone and pieces of the bone have exited the skin. During surgery, the displaced bone or pieces of bone are joined together with the help of metal screws and plates. You may also be given antibiotics to avoid the risk of infection.


Care should be taken while you walk or run and especially while climbing up/down the stairs. This can prevent you from falling and eventually from accidental fractures.