Nonoperatively Treated Proximal Humerus Fractures: Randomized Trial of Immediate Versus Delayed Initiation of Exercises

Document Type : RESEARCH PAPER


1 Medisch Centrum Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

2 Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Maasstad Ziekenhuis, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

4 Dell Medical School--The University of Texas at Austin, USA


Objectives: There is debate about when to start exercises in the nonoperative treatment of a proximal humerus fracture. This randomized trial compared immediate and one-month delayed shoulder exercises in the nonoperative treatment of fractures of the proximal humerus.
Methods: Twenty-six patients with a fracture of the proximal humerus who chose nonoperative treatment were randomized to start pendulum exercises within a few days and 24 were randomized to delayed exercises and started with active self-assisted stretching 1 month after fracture. Three and six months after the injury, patients completed the Disabilities of the Arm Shoulder and Hand questionnaire to measure capability, a measure of pain intensity, and had motion measurements.
Results: There was no significant difference in forward flexion (primary outcome) six months after injury between patients that started motion exercises immediately compared to 1 month after injury (p = 0.85). There was no difference in any motion measurement, pain intensity, upper extremity specific disability (DASH score) three or six months after injury. Conclusion: Delaying exercises for a month does not affect recovery from nonoperative treatment of a fracture of the proximal humerus. People can choose whether to start exercises immediately or wait until they feel comfortable.
Level of evidence: II


Main Subjects

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