Broken Arm (Upper) - Symptoms

What are the symptoms of a broken upper arm?

If you have had a fall or hit your arm you might feel or hear a snap or a cracking sound.

The main symptom is pain, which will be worse if you try to move your arm. A broken upper arm (fractured humerus) can be extremely painful, so much so that you may feel sick, dizzy or faint.

Other symptoms of a broken upper arm are:

  • You will be unable to use your arm.
  • Your elbow or upper arm may be swollen.
  • Your elbow or upper arm may bruise.
  • If it is a very severe break, your arm may be a different shape.
  • You may notice tingling or numbness.
  • There may be bleeding if the broken bone (or your fall) has damaged the skin.

If you have dislocated your shoulder at the same time as breaking your upper arm, you may also notice that your shoulder is out of place or deformed.

When should I see a doctor?

If you think you have broken your upper arm you should get medical advice immediately. It is important to treat a broken upper arm (fractured humerus) as soon as possible, so that it can start to heal properly. You should go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department or Minor Injuries Unit. Putting your arm into a sling that goes under your arm and around the back of your neck before you go, will make the journey easier. If you haven't got a sling, you can make one out of a square scarf folded in half diagonally.

arm sling

If it's a bad break, call 999/112/911 for an ambulance.

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Dr Jacqueline Payne
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
29399 (v1)
Last Checked:
16 May 2017
Next Review:
25 June 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.