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Humeral rodding

What is humeral rodding?

Rodding surgery provides rigid fixation where the bones can heal in the correct alignment. The rod is called an ‘intramedullary’ rod which means ‘inside the bone’.

You may have been offered this type of surgery because you have had lots of arm fractures or because your arm bone (humerus) is bent and needs straightening to make it work better for you. Other reasons for surgery include non-union (the bone does not heal properly) or you have an acute fracture.

A big advantage of this surgery is that you can start to move your shoulder and elbow sooner to avoid any stiffness. Healing is also usually quicker and rodding the humerus can reduce how often you get fractures.

What happens during surgery?

When you come into hospital you will be given medicine to send you to sleep. Your parent or carer will be with you when this happens.


Once you are asleep you will be taken to theatre.

Your surgeon will make a cut at in your shoulder or elbow and insert a metal rod through the shaft of the bone to hold in place.

If you have not already had a fracture and your bone is curved, your surgeon may need to cut the bone to make it straighter. This cut is called an osteotomy.

What happens after surgery?

When you wake up on the ward your arm will be sore. You will be given pain relief to help with any pain and discomfort. The nurses on the wards will help you with this.

Your arm may be in a cast or a bandage and lifted up in a sling for a short time if it is very swollen. Your arm and hand may be swollen and bruised for a number of weeks but this is very normal.

The amount of time you spend in hospital will depend on how well your surgery went and how well the pain is managed. Most often this is a few days.

How do I look after my arm?

You need to keep your arm in its sling to help it heal.

Avoid putting your injured arm through sleeves and instead keep your injured arm under your clothing. This will be less painful and will also help to support the arm.

You will not be able to use your injured arm as you usually do. This may make it more difficult to do some things by yourself, so you may need help with getting dressed, going to the toilet and getting on and off things.

Keep your cast or brace dry.

Do I need to do any exercises?

To help reduce the swelling and stiffness you should keep exercising your wrist and hand. Getting the muscles working in your arm, wrist and hand will reduce symptoms.

Try clinching your fist as tight as possible, then stretching your fingers out as far as you can. Also try rotating, circling, bending and stretching your wrist to work your forearm muscles.

Your occupational therapist and physiotherapist will come to see you when you are back on the ward to give you some advice about which exercises are best for you.

They may give you some therapy putty or therapy sponge to help with these exercises which you may need to complete several times a day.

What else can happen?

The nerves that wrap around the middle of your arm bone can sometimes get injured during this surgery. This feels like numbness on the back of the hand and difficulty straightening (extending) the wrist and fingers.

Most of these nerve injuries typically improve with time, but your surgeon and therapists will follow up with you in case further treatment is needed.

What happens when I go back to school?

At school you may need some help with handwriting. Your occupational therapist and physiotherapist will be able to help with this.

Do I need to come back to hospital?

You will come back to hospital for a review with your surgeon after 6 weeks.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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