Shoulder fractures involve one of three bones in the shoulder:
- clavicle (collar bone)
- humerus (upper arm bone)
- scapula (shoulder blade)
What causes it?
- Clavicle breaks are often caused by a fall or direct hit, or are related to a vehicle accident or contact sport.
- A common fracture of the bone running from the elbow to the shoulder (humerus), is a proximal humerus fracture. Occurring at the top of the humerus bone, this fracture 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.
How do you know you have it?
Symptoms common to shoulder fracture are:
- Swelling and bruising
- Limited or no shoulder movement
- Deformity at the site of the fracture
How we fix it
Depending on the 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, pin, 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 used, the majority of shoulder injuries will require a period of immobilization with subsequent rehabbing. Shoulder fractures may leave a patient with permanent shoulder stiffness.