Broken Humerus Bone, How Long to Heal?

Updated on January 28, 2011
K.I. asks from Lindenhurst, NY
3 answers

Hi All,

I recently broke my arm, right at the elbow...I was too scared to look at the X-rays but I broke my humerus bone it 2 places right at the elbow. I broker it on Saturday night (the 15th) and went to the ER and had surgery first thing Sunday morning and they let me out of the hospital on Monday the 17th.

The Dr. told me that I definitely did a good job breaking it and it's gonna take some time to heal...I have 2 plates and some screws and some wires holding everything together right now and boy does it suck! The pain is very bad, even with me staying on top of my pain medication. I have an appointment on Monday the 31st and they are gonna take some more X-rays and hopefully I will get a better sense of what's happening and how long it's gonna take to heal.

My questions are...has anyone done this before and can give me an idea of how long recovery takes? Or when the pain starts to subside? I know at some point they ate going to go back in and take out all the hardware that is in there does that work? Anybody know? I tried to ask all these questions at my first follow-up appointment but like with most Doctors, mine was hesitant to give me any answers because we are all different, blah, blah, blah....but I am just wanting ball park even? The not knowing is killing's bad enough I am out of work but to not even be able to give my boss a basic idea is terrible...not to mention I would love to know just for my own piece of mind.

I have looked online and can't come up with anything really....any thoughts from you guys?

Thank you in advance and ANY and ALL thoughts welcomed and APPRECIATED!

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answers from Redding on

Broken bones really stink!
Sounds like you didn't fiddle around and do it just half way. :)

It's hard to say how long your healing time might take. If your own doctor can't give you a pretty good answer yet, I don't know how we can. You just have to try to be patient and do everything your doctor tells you to give yourself the best chance to heal more quickly.
I feel for you. I broke my right leg and it took forever to heal. I couldn't drive at all for the longest time.
I separated my shoulder, but I kept telling the doctors that my arm hurt halfway between the shoulder and elbow. I mean, it REALLY, really hurt. They thought I had a rotator cuff injury that wouldn't show up on regular x-rays so they scheduled me for an MRI. That took weeks. Then, nobody called me after it was done no matter how many times I called and left messages so I assumed everything was fine. Although, I was still in a lot of pain. No pain meds, either. I figured I didn't need them if nothing was wrong.
A couple of months later, I had to go to the doctor for something else and asked, since I was there, if I could see my MRI results.
They weren't in my chart.
So the doctor went out for a while.
He came back in white as a ghost.
The MRI showed that my humerus was broken. No one ever told me.
It didn't heal right so now I don't know what they're going to do.
I'm in no hurry to put myself through what you just went through.

Maybe someone on here had pretty much the same injury that you did and can give you an idea of what you're facing. Everybody heals so differently though. It sounds like you have a really good doctor as far as getting you taken care of right away. That's half the battle for sure!

Hang in there!
I wish you blessings and a speedy recovery!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

They will have a different opinion every time the X-ray shows improvement. As they keep an eye on the healing they will give you more information. I would think a couple of months at the most for the healing then some physical therapy.

Seems like my mom had her hardware removed in the doc's office. That's what they wanted to do to remove my staples in my knee...I was too much of a chicken to have it done so I still have them.

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answers from Lancaster on

Each day your pain should be less and less. You should start to feel significant relief in another week or two. I didn't see your x-rays and have no idea how the surgeon put your bones back together but usually the pins come out and the plates and screws stay in. I assume your elbow is immobilized and if so, once some healing has taken place, you will most likely need physical therapy to gain normal range of motion back. It sounds as though your elbow had significant trauma and the process for your elbow to heal and be fully functioning will take more than just are probably looking at months and may be even a year until it feels "normal" again and doesn't swell up or get sore from overuse. Every body is different. You could heal in another month or two. Many factors affect healing.

As far as going back to work... Not knowing what you do at your job makes it impossible for me to comment on that.

I understand you are scared and in pain. Keep taking the meds as prescribed to keep your pain under control. Take excellent care of the rest of your body; eat right, take vitamins (with calcium and vit D), get more than enough sleep and don't smoke (smoking inhibits healing). Follow the doctor's instructions--even the annoying, inconvenient ones because your healing depends on it. Be ready to work hard to get your elbow and arm strength back and follow the physical therapist's exercises and advise.

As far as getting your questions answered...write them down and fire them off at your next appt. You could even give the MD a copy to review and have the RN put it on your chart. Write the answers down. Patients tend to forget details after the fact. You should also take a trusted friend or family member with you for support and to help ask questions and clarify answers after the fact.

One last thought... depending on the nature of your trauma (does the force of trauma equal the severity of the fractures) or if you have had previous fractures as an adult you may want to have your doctor check your bone density. Family history and other factors can be gone over with your MD to see if you are at risk for osteopenia/ osteoporosis.

Good luck in your healing.

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