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Fracture

Cause

Fractures of the shoulder joint involve breaking one of the three bones of the shoulder:  the clavicle, humerus, or scapula. Clavicle and proximal humerus fractures are often caused by a direct blow from an accident, fall, or collision. The scapula is harder to fracture than these two bones, so fractures of it are usually caused by high energy trauma.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a shoulder fracture include pain while moving the arm, swelling, bruising, limited range of motion, and “grinding” feeling when moving. Additionally, a bump on the shoulder is characteristic of a fractured clavicle.

Treatment

The nonsurgical treatment for shoulder fractures initially includes rest and immobilization. A sling or figure 8 strap is used for the first 3-8 weeks after surgery. After the immobilization period, physical therapy and home exercises can help improve strength and motion. Most shoulder fractures can be treated without surgery.

 

Surgery is needed for more serious injuries, and often involves fixation with plates and screws. For more severe cases partial shoulder replacement surgery, reverse shoulder replacement nonunion fracture surgery, and malunion shoulder fracture surgery are options.

Recovery

After surgery, you may need assistance with daily functions for 5-10 days, but can return to school or work after this period. When pain in the shoulder resides, you can resume shoulder movement, and exercises will be helpful for recovery. You can return to sports or regular activity once full strength is regained, which typically occurs about six months after injury.

Patient Resources

Clavicle

Humerus

Scapula

Other Patient Resources

References

  1. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/shoulder-trauma-fractures-and-dislocations/

  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17470-shoulder-fractures

  3. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/find-a-program-or-service/orthopaedics/shoulder-pain/shoulder-fracture-diagnosis-and-treatment

  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/humerus-fracture-upper-arm-fracture

  5. https://nyulangone.org/conditions/shoulder-elbow-fractures/treatments/nonsurgical-treatment-for-shoulder-elbow-fractures

  6. https://www.hss.edu/condition-list_fractures-shoulder.asp

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