“This information is meant only as a guide to help you understand and your treatment options. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a specialist Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. We strongly recommend a thorough discussion with your surgeon about the most appropriate treatment about your problem.” 

Shoulder Fracture Treatment

Shoulder Fractures

Shoulder Fracture Treatment involves a treatment to a fracture, is a break in the bone. There are some common fractures of the shoulder region. These are:

  1. Proximal humerus fractures – The humerus is the medical name for the arm bone. Fractures of the top of the arm bone, which involve the ball of the shoulder, are common.
  2. Clavicle fractures – these are fractures of the collarbone
  3. Scapula and glenoid fracture – these are fractures of the shoulder blade and the socket of the shoulder.

Keep reading to find out more information about these conditions and shoulder fracture treatment.

Please see our section on anatomy of the shoulder to find out more about the structure of a normal shoulder.

You can find more information about separation and injury of the shoulder joints (dislocations) here.

Proximal Humerus Fractures

These are fractures involving the upper part of the arm bone – the “humerus”, and include the ball of the shoulder. 

Causes: 

These fractures are very common in the elderly after trivial falls. They also occur in younger patients after severe injury – for example, road traffic accidents. Very rarely, there may be some underlying condition which weakens the bone and causes it to break with minor injury. These are called “pathological” fractures.

Symptoms

  1. There will be severe pain around the shoulder immediately after the injury. Any movement of the arm will cause the pain to worsen.
  2. The shape of the shoulder may look different, especially when you compare it with the normal side. There may be swelling around the shoulder. 
  3. There may be extensive bruising and discolouration of the arm and around the elbow.
  4. In severe injury, there may be injury to the nerves and blood vessels 

Diagnosis:

Your doctor will start off with a thorough clinical examination to look for any other injuries, and to ensure that there is no damage to any of the nerves and blood vessels around your shoulder.

Investigations: 

An X-ray is necessary to confirm the fracture, and to check the pattern of the fracture. It will also help assess other injuries like dislocation of the joints and fractures of other bones (e.g. the collar bone).

Your Orthopaedic surgeon might also recommend a CT scan to get a detailed image of the fracture.  

Shoulder Fracture Treatment:

We strongly advise you to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a fracture of your shoulder. The goal of treatment is to restore normal function of the shoulder joint – which means painless movement of the shoulder once the fracture heals. This usually takes 2-3 months. Generally speaking, these fractures can be treated in one of the two following methods:

  1. Conservative treatment:  a brief period of rest, followed by closely supervised physiotherapy
  2. Operative treatment: Surgery is followed by physiotherapy and rehabilitation. 

Please speak to a shoulder specialist to know which type of treatment will be best for you. There are pros and cons to both conservative and operative treatment, and the ideal treatment is individualised as per the patient. 

Clavicle or Collarbone Fractures

These are fractures involving the collar bone. This is an important bone which is commonly injured.  

Causes: 

These fractures are very common in young adults after severe injury like in contact sports, or after traffic accidents and fall from two-wheelers or bicycles.

Symptoms

  1. There will be severe pain around the shoulder immediately after the injury. Any movement of the arm will cause the pain to worsen.
  2. The shape of the shoulder may look different, especially when you compare it with the normal side. There may be swelling and bruising in the collarbone region. 
  3. In severe injury, there may be injury to the nerves and blood vessels 

Diagnosis:

Your doctor will start off with a thorough clinical examination to look for any other injuries, and to ensure that there is no damage to any of the nerves and blood vessels around your shoulder.

Investigations: 

An X-ray is necessary to confirm the fracture, and to check the pattern of the fracture. It will also help assess other injuries like dislocation of the joints and fractures of other bones (e.g. the joint between the collarbone and the shoulder blade).

Shoulder Fracture Treatment:

We strongly advise you to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a fracture around your shoulder. The goal of treatment is to restore normal function of the shoulder joint – which means painless movement of the shoulder once the fracture heals. This usually takes 2-3 months. Generally speaking, these fractures can be treated in one of the two following methods:

  1. Conservative treatment:  a brief period of rest, followed by closely supervised physiotherapy. Fortunately, the majority of collarbone fractures can be treated this way.
  2. Operative treatment: Surgery is followed by physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Surgery is required rarely, depending on the fracture pattern (severe displacement, shortening), damage to overlying skin, injury to nerves and vessels, or patient requirement.

Please speak to a shoulder specialist to know which type of treatment will be best for you. There are pros and cons to both conservative and operative treatment, and the ideal treatment is individualised as per the patient. 

Scapula and Glenoid Fractures

These are fractures of the shoulder blade (the “scapula”). The socket of the shoulder is called the “glenoid”. This is also a part of the shoulder blade. It can also be involved in a fracture.

Causes: 

These fractures are fortunately not very common. They occur in younger patients after severe injury – for example, road traffic accidents.

Symptoms

  1. There will be severe pain around the shoulder immediately after the injury. Any movement of the arm will cause the pain to worsen.
  2. The shape of the shoulder may look different, especially when you compare it with the normal side. There may be swelling around the shoulder. 
  3. There may be extensive bruising and discolouration of the arm and around the elbow.
  4. In severe injury, there may be injury to the nerves and blood vessels 

Diagnosis:

Your doctor will start off with a thorough clinical examination to look for any other injuries, and to ensure that there is no damage to any of the nerves and blood vessels around your shoulder.

Investigations: 

An X-ray is necessary to confirm the fracture, and to check the pattern of the fracture. It will also help assess other injuries like dislocation of the joints and fractures of other bones (e.g. the collar bone).

Your Orthopaedic surgeon might also recommend a CT scan to get a detailed image of the fracture.  

Treatment:

We strongly advise you to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a fracture of your shoulder. The goal of treatment is to restore normal function of the shoulder joint – which means painless movement of the shoulder once the fracture heals. This usually takes 2-3 months. Generally speaking, these fractures can be treated in one of the two following methods:

  1. Conservative treatment: The majority of scapula fractures can be treated this way. It involves a brief period of rest, followed by closely supervised physiotherapy. 
  2. Operative treatment: Surgery is needed if the scapula or the glenoid fracture is not in good position. Surgery is followed by physiotherapy and rehabilitation to improve movement and regain strength. 

Please speak to a shoulder specialist to know which type of treatment will be best for you. There are pros and cons to both conservative and operative treatment, and the ideal Shoulder Fracture Treatment is individualised as per the patient. 

Looking to learn more about Sports InjuryShoulder Arthritis, Shoulder Dislocations, Frozen Shoulder, Subacromial Impingement, Rotator Cuff Tears . Take a look at our Patient education guide

Book An Appointment

Visit The Shoulder Centre Here