The healing process for a fractured humerus includes surgical or nonsurgical treatment, and physical therapy when the bone starts to heal, according to the Drugs.com. The process takes several months.
With the nonsurgical option, the patient wears a hanging cast that is suspended from the neck, states Humpal Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Centers. The weight of the hanging cast positions the arm so that the fracture is straight. As healing occurs, the surgeon removes the cast and puts the patient in an upper-arm brace and sling. The healing bone tissue, or callus, has 50 percent of its eventual strength at six weeks and is at 80 percent by three months. However, the arm still needs protection with a brace or cast.
The healing process is faster with surgery, notes Humpal Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Centers. Surgical options include closed reduction with percutaneous fixation, which is also called percutaneous pinning; open reduction and internal fixation; and humeral head replacement, explains MD Guidelines. With percutaneous pinning and open reduction and internal fixation, the doctor performs another procedure to remove the hardware.
For nonsurgical and surgical treatment, doctors recommend physical therapy once the humerus starts to heal, states Drugs.com. They also recommend at-home exercises, such as isometric and pendulum arm exercises, adds the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Physical therapy takes several months and restores normal functioning to the arm.