Fractures of the humeral shaft caused by arm wrestling: a systematic review

Kiyohisa Ogawa, Atsushi Yoshida, Noboru Matsumura, Wataru Inokuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Arm wrestling is a popular sport/game that may result in various injuries. The most common arm wrestling injury in adults is humeral shaft fracture. This study aimed to elucidate the current understanding of humeral shaft fracture caused by arm wrestling and propose the possible mechanism. Methods: The PubMed and Web of Science databases were searched using the terms “arm wrestling” and “humeral fracture” as well as “sports” and “humeral fracture” in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The inclusion criteria were English full-text articles and notable full-text articles in other languages concerning humeral shaft fracture caused by arm wrestling that described the patients' characteristics and presented adequate images or a detailed description of the fracture to confirm the fracture details. The exclusion criterion was a lack of appropriate images or detailed description of the fracture. Fifty-seven studies were identified. The patients' demographics were evaluated. The details of fractures, primary radial nerve palsy, match status, provided fracture treatment, and outcomes were evaluated using the chi-squared test. The relationship between fracture site and the patient's age was analyzed using Student's t-test. Results: One hundred fifty-three patients, 82% of whom were males aged 15-34 years, were identified. With only a few exceptions, almost all patients were injured in recreational matches. The injured limb was the right arm in 65% of patients (n = 141). The patient's physical characteristics, the opponent's physical characteristics compared with those of the patient, and the match status at the time of injury varied between cases. Among the 46 patients with known match details, all were injured when one of the wrestling opponents suddenly added more force in an attempt to change the match status. The fracture configuration was spiral in all cases, and 48% of fractures had an associated medial butterfly fragment. The fracture site was the distal third or the junction between the distal and middle thirds in 90% of cases. Although primary radial nerve palsy was recognized in 19 of 103 patients (18.4%), all resolved spontaneously. Conclusion: Although humeral shaft fracture caused by arm wrestling occurred mostly in male players aged 15-34 years, this injury may affect any player regardless of the match status, player's and opponent's physical characteristics, and age. The direct cause is torsional force generated by the internal rotators. A sudden change from concentric to eccentric contraction of the internal rotators is likely to cause fracture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-512
Number of pages8
JournalJSES Reviews, Reports, and Techniques
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov


  • Adult
  • Arm wrestling
  • Eccentric muscle contraction
  • Humeral fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery
  • Reviews and References, Medical
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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