Shoulder Fracture

The most common cause of shoulder fracture is an injury. A direct blow to the shoulder or fall on it can cause shoulder fracture.

Shoulder fracture badly impacts the patient. Shoulder, being the most flexible joint, plays an important part in carrying out daily tasks in our lives.

Due to the increased flexibility, the shoulder is more prone to injury. The type of shoulder injury varies with age.

Clavicle fractures are common in children but can happen to a person of any age.

Elderly individuals are more prone to fractures in the upper part of the arm.

Clavicle Fracture

A clavicle fracture is a common shoulder fracture which can occur at any age. When the collarbone which connects sternum or breastbone to your shoulder gets fractured, it is called clavicle fracture.


The most common cause of this fracture is a fall onto the shoulder or the patient involved in a motor vehicle accident. Some of the sports activities may also be responsible for this fracture like football, hockey, and skiing.


Some of the symptoms associated with clavicle fracture include:

  • Pain, swelling, and bruising over the collarbone.
  • Increase in pain within the collarbone due to increased shoulder movement.
  • A downward or forward slumped shoulder.
  • There may be a bump in the area broken.
  • When the patient tries to lift their arm up, they can hear a grinding sound.


The doctor will ask about the history of the injury. Diagnosis involves physical examination of the patient. The doctor may X-ray the patient to identify correct location of the fracture. The doctor may also advise computerized tomography.

Conservative Treatment Options

Sometimes the orthopedic doctor may treat the patient with conservative treatment methods. Some of the conservative treatment options may include.

  • An arm sling support around the arm and for holding the bones in their normal position.
  • Pain medications administered to the patient.
  • Gentle exercises may also be recommended gentle elbow and shoulder exercise once the pain has reduced or subsided for minimizing stiffness and weakness.
  • Follow up and regular visits to the doctor until the shoulder fracture has completely healed.


In some cases, the orthopedic surgeon might suggest surgery. The surgeon performs surgery for re-alignment of fracture ends to stabilize them for improved healing. In surgery, the surgeon uses pins, plates, and screws for maintaining proper position of the bone.

Proximal Humerus Fracture

The upper arm bone usually causes the proximal humerus fracture. The fracture lies between two joints; shoulder joint and elbow joint.

Proximal Humerus Fracture

The upper arm bone usually causes the proximal humerus fracture. The fracture lies between two joints; shoulder joint and elbow joint.


Elderly individuals or patients with osteoporosis are often prone to proximal humerus fracture. Traumatic injuries may be the reason behind proximal humerus fractures. The fracture may also occur due to outstretched hand, motor vehicle accidents, or falling from great heights. Severe trauma can be the cause of proximal humerus fracture in younger individuals.

These are the following categories or groups of proximal humerus fractures.

Greater Tuberosity Fractures

Greater tuberosity fracture is insertion site for attachment of rotator cuff tendons. These fractures usually occur in patients with shoulder dislocation or osteoporosis.

Lesser Tuberosity Fractures

Traumatic muscle contractions and shoulder dislocations due to electrical shock or convulsions are the primary causes of lesser tuberosity fractures. If not treated in time, these fractures can cause subscapularis muscle deficiency and may require major transfer procedure.

Surgical Neck Fractures

Patients with osteoporotic bone usually suffer from surgical neck fractures. These fractures can cause damage to the axillary nerve, which carries sensory impulses to the shoulder.

Humeral Head Fractures

Elderly individuals usually have humeral head fractures because of osteoporotic bone. These fractures can cause significant trauma in younger patients. However, a mild trauma in elderly individuals suffering from osteoporosis can cause a fracture.

The proximal humerus fracture can be in two, three or four parts.


In this type of proximal humerus fracture, the patient has severe pain, swelling and restricted motion of the shoulder.


The doctor usually relies upon X-rays, and CT Scan of the affected area to determine the extent of bone damage suffered by the patient.

Conservative Treatment Options

In most cases, proximal humerus fractures cause minimal displacement. Therefore, usually, proximal humerus fractures can be treated with conservative treatment approaches. The doctor may advise the use of a sling to immobilize unnecessary movement. Similarly, early physiotherapy may also be helpful in some cases.


Sometimes, surgery is the only way to treat displaced fractures. The doctor may advise the patients to use plates, screws, pins, and in some cases go for a ashoulder replacement surgery.

Scapula Fracture

A significant amount of force applied to the shoulder can cause scapula fracture. This kind of fracture is not common but could occur. High-speed motor vehicle accident or fall from a great height can result in scapula fracture. A fall on an overstretched arm or a fall on one’s back can be other causes.

Symptoms of Scapula Fractures

These are the symptoms commonly associated with scapula fractures.


The severe and immediate rush of pain in the scapula area.

Popping Sound

Crepitus or a popping sound is one of the symptoms that the patient may be suffering from scapula fractures.


The feeling of numbness, tingling, or coldness in hand or forearm may point out to the fact that the patient is suffering from scapula fracture.

Impaired Mobility

The decreased range of mobility in the joint and inability of the patient to straighten their arm.


Bruising, after an injury to the shoulder.

Diagnosis of Scapula Fractures

The physician usually does a physical examination of the affected shoulder to properly diagnosis and treat scapula fracture.


The quick swelling of the scapula area after an injury.

Diagnosis of Scapula Fractures

The physician usually does a physical examination of the affected shoulder to properly diagnosis and treat scapula fracture.

Conservative Treatment Options for Scapula Fractures

The firm support of the soft tissues usually prevents scapular fractures from getting displaced. Therefore, surgeons prefer conservative treatment options in most cases of scapular fractures.

These are the conservative treatment options used by orthopedics for scapula fractures.

Prescription Medication

The doctor administers the patient with pain medications to provide comfort during the healing process.

Physical Therapy

Sometimes, the doctor asks the patient to do a range of regular motion exercises to restore the entire shoulder function. The doctor may also refer the patient to a physiotherapist for instructions on proper exercises. These exercises help patients quickly recover from the fracture.


A sling may be attached to the patient’s shoulder to support the shoulder, allowing it to heal. This sling is usually worn by the patient from 3 to 6 weeks depending on the severity of the scapula fracture.

Surgery for Scapula Fractures

In extreme cases, an orthopedic surgeon may suggest the patient undergo surgery. In a scapula fracture involving neck or glenoid or severe displacement, surgery is the most recommended way of treatment.

The doctor carries out minimally invasive surgery called open reduction internal fixation. The minimally invasive surgery ORIF uses smaller incisions instead of the traditional open surgery approach. This kind of surgery is only limited to the impacted area. The surgeon places surgical plates instead of option for traditional incision. The minimally invasive surgery offers several benefits like faster healing, less scarring, and rapid recovery.