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Treatment Orthopedics

Shoulder Fracture

A simple sling allows most fractures to heal by holding the shoulder in place. You'll likely return to the office periodically for follow-up X-rays to check that the bone is knitting together properly. Most patients also benefit from starting a physical therapy program after healing has begun. This program focuses first on regaining motion in the joint and then on rebuilding strength.

If, however, the fractured bone moved significantly out of place during your injury, you may benefit from surgery. Sometimes plates and screws are placed to hold the bone together, and the surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Depending on your injury and the procedure required to repair it, you may be able to go home the same day, but it's possible you'll need to stay in the hospital for a day or so of monitoring.

Patients generally wear a sling for six to eight weeks post-op. During this time, you won't be able to drive; you'll have X-rays periodically to ensure the bone is healing well; and you'll begin physical therapy, which is essential for regaining motion and strength. The time for full recovery depends on your exact injury, but for most patients, it takes six to nine months.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

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