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Shoulder Fractures

Shoulder fractures involve one of three bones in the shoulder:

  • Clavicle (collar bone)
  • Humerus (upper arm bone)
  • Scapula (shoulder blade)

What causes a Shoulder Fracture?

The causes of shoulder fractures in the three shoulder bones usually happen in varying ways:

  • Clavicle breaks are often caused by a fall or direct hit or are related to a vehicle accident or contact sport. 
  • A proximal humerus fracture is a shoulder fracture that occurs at the top of the humerus bone and is especially common in elderly individuals and is, behind hip and wrist fractures, the third most common broken bone in people 65 and over. It is usually caused by a fall. 
  • Scapula fractures are rare. The cause is often a high-speed motor vehicle accident where a forceful impact breaks the shoulder blade.

How do you know you have a Shoulder Fracture?

Symptoms common to shoulder fracture are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Limited or no shoulder movement
  • Deformity at the site of the fracture

How does OSI fix a Shoulder Fracture?

An OSI shoulder specialist will examine you to confirm your shoulder fracture and the severity of it. You can expect one or more of the following:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will carefully examine your shoulder; it is important to know the circumstances that led to the dislocation and if the dislocation has ever happened before.
  • X-ray: An X-ray may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

Depending on the type of shoulder fracture and the patient’s activity level, treatment can vary. Options include:

  • Immobilization: The use of a sling for 3-8 weeks; X-rays are used to gauge if there has been sufficient healing for physical therapy exercises to begin.
  • Surgery: Fracture fragments may necessitate the use of wires, pins, or plates for surgical repair. In certain instances where the ball portion of the shoulder joint has sustained significant damage, a total shoulder replacement may be necessary.

No matter the treatment approach, most shoulder injuries will require a period of immobilization with subsequent rehabbing. Physical therapy is available right at OSI and will be under the watchful eye of your OSI orthopedic surgeon. Shoulder fractures, unfortunately, may leave a patient with permanent shoulder stiffness, but we will do all we can to prevent this.