After being an Issaquah auto accident attorney for several years and working with victims that sustained serious personal injury you become familiar with anatomy and what bones tend to fracture in an auto accident. After years of helping victims recover from their injuries I have learned that the humerus, a bone in the arm that extends from the shoulder to the elbow, is susceptible to fracture in a serious auto accident.
When involved in a high speed auto accident the impact can cause the humerus along with many other bones in your arms and wrists to break, as you grip the steering wheel to prepare for the blow. The humerus can break in three locations: a proximal fracture is up near the shoulder, a mid-shaft fracture, which is in the middle of the bone or a distal fracture which is closer to the elbow. The mid-shaft fracture has the least complications and will usually heal on its own after the doctor places it correctly and the arm is properly immobilized. Because of the location of the humerus a cast is not usually applied- instead the victim is left with their arm immobilized in a sling or brace.
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If it is a severe fracture with the bones completely out of place a metal plate is screwed into the bone at the place of the fracture so it may fuse back together properly, this is called open reduction with internal fixation (ORIF). ORIF surgery has a very high success rate with few complications.
A humeral fracture can have serious effects on the radial nerve if the bone injures the nerve at all during the break. The radial nerve comes from the spinal cord and goes down to the hand, wrapping around the humerus bone. Since the nerve wraps the humerus bone it is very easy to damage when the bone is broken. This is usually a temporary injury, but can cause abnormal sensations in the hand and loss of muscle strength in the hand and wrist. The majority of patients recover from this in three to four months.