Shoulder Fractures

Fractures of the shoulder are common injuries and frequently can be treated non-surgically, but sometimes require surgery.

  • They can occur as a result of a high-energy injury in a strong bone or a low energy injury in weak bone.
  • Initial first aid treatment includes pain relief and a sling to rest the shoulder.
  • Ice and compression should be used to reduce the swelling and imaging performed to decide on treatment.
  • Most injuries can be treated conservatively with a sling and some physiotherapy usually for around 2 months.
  • Sometimes, due to deformity or poor healing, surgery is needed to reduce the fractured bone fragments and secure them to allow early movement.
  • It is important that early movement occurs after surgery or injury as otherwise the development of a frozen shoulder can occur.

Collarbone fracture (clavicle)

  • A clavicle fracture is also known as a broken collar bone. Broken collar bones are very common and are usually caused by a direct blow to the bone itself or from falling on an outstretched arm.
  • X-ray will confirm severity of the break. Non-displaced fractures can heal without surgery, whereas displaced fractures typically require surgery.

Scapula or Shoulder Blade fractures

  • Shoulder blade fractures are very uncommon. Typically shoulder blade fractures occur in the lower or inferior aspect of the bone.
  • Many of these fractures can be treated without surgery. Symptoms include extreme pain and swelling close to the site of injury.

Upper Arm or Proximal Humerus Fracture

  • These kind of fractures frequently occur in elderly people when there is a fall from an outstretched arm.
  • A fall can be a simple fall from standing in the elderly to a more vigorous fall from a bike in a younger person.
  • They are commonly seen as osteoporotic or weak bone injuries in older people.

What is the treatment?

  • While many proximal humeral fractures may no need surgery, they can be very dangerous due to the risk of cutting the nerve and blood supply which runs along the humerus to the hand.
  • It is always best to get the right advice for your proximal humeral fracture.