Shoulder fractures can be a painful and limiting injury.  The shoulder is made up of three bones: the humerus (arm bone), clavicle (collar bone) and scapula (shoulder blade). These bones are attached to one another by soft tissues to form three joints that work in harmony to move the shoulder. If any or any combination of the bones is/are fractured, joint integrity and function are compromised and an appointment with an Orthopedic Specialist should be arranged.

During an initial appointment, an orthopedist will diagnose the fracture by analyzing what caused it and what the presenting symptoms are. After an accurate diagnosis is made, effective treatment options will be prescribed.


Causes of Shoulder Fractures

Shoulder fractures are generally caused by falls, direct blows and high impact collisions, most commonly motor vehicle accidents. In most cases, the severity of the fracture is based on two factors: the amount of impact experienced and the injured patient’s bone health.


Types of Shoulder Fractures 

The two most common shoulder fractures are those that involve the upper portion of the humerus and those that involve the clavicle. A fracture of the scapula is less common and usually only seen in high trauma accidents that involve chest injuries. From a diagnostic standpoint, each type of shoulder fracture has its own unique symptoms, which makes an accurate diagnosis relatively easy.


Symptoms of Shoulder Fractures

 The following outlines the type of shoulder fractures and their presenting symptoms:

  1. Proximal humerus fractures cause a great deal of swelling, bruising, and pain, especially when moving the shoulder.
  2. Clavicle fractures present as a noticeable bump over the collar bone area. Moderate to severe pain and limited shoulder mobility is experienced.
  3. Scapula fractures are characterized by pain that’s localized to shoulder blade and/or rib cage.

To reduce/eliminate these symptoms, an Orthopedic Surgeon’s treatment plan will be geared towards treating the fracture.

Treatment of Shoulder Fractures

Shoulder fractures are treated based on their severity. Non-displaced fractures, which are those that don’t alter bone alignment, are usually treated using conservative, non-operative treatment options, such as early immobilization with a sling, gentle motion exercises and physical therapy. Displaced fractures are those that disrupt bone alignment. They are usually treated with surgery. During a 1-2-hour procedure, the fracture is reduced and then fixated using screws and a plate.

What to Do If You’ve Been Injured 

If you sustained an impact shoulder injury and are experiencing any of the symptoms outlined in this post, please don’t hesitate to contact our office to arrange an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Specialists. They will use their knowledge, skills, and experience to diagnosis and treat your injury. If it’s a fracture, you can be rest assured that you’ll be in the right place—the road to bone healing starts when you walk through our doors.

The physicians at Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine focus on both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of shoulder injuries and are one of the most innovative orthopedic practices in the area.  Dr. Charles Ruotolo, President of Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, has published several peer-reviewed studies on orthopedic care and orthopedic surgery of the shoulder.

Fortunately, many patients can be treated non-surgically with a combination of conservative modalities coordinated by the Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Team. If surgery is necessary, the practice uses a multidisciplinary approach to create a treatment plan that focuses on the patient’s lifestyle and activities and helps them get back to those activities quickly and effectively.  Expect a full recovery when in the hands of our trusted physicians.