Shoulder Fracture

Shoulder blade fractures represent one percent of all broken bones. High energy blunt trauma, such as a motorcycle or car crash or falling from a significant height can fracture the shoulder blade.

Signs and symptoms for shoulder fractures include:

  • Extreme pain when you move the arm.
  • Swelling around the back of the shoulder.
  • Skin abrasions.

Diagnosis is made through taking a patient's medical history, performing a physical examination and taking X-rays. CT scans can also be helpful in some instances.

Nonsurgical treatment with a simple sling works for most fractures of the scapula or shoulder blade. The immobilization device holds your shoulder in place while the bone heals. If you have a fracture where the bone has moved out of place significantly, or where a fracture in the neck of the scapula results in severe deformity of the bone, you may need further evaluation. In some cases, you may need surgery in which the doctor uses plates and screws to hold the bone together.

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Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

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