A fractured shoulder may involve a broken collarbone (clavicle), shoulder blade (scapula), upper arm (humerus), or the shoulder cup (glenoid). This injury might occur when someone falls against an outstretched hand or receives a direct blow to the shoulder.
Sprains, strains, or dislocations may occur at the same time as a fracture. It may be hard to tell the difference between a bad sprain and a fracture.
Signs of a fracture may include:
Symptoms of a fracture may include:
Recovery time for a fracture varies depending on the person's age and health and the type and severity of the fracture. A minor break in a child's shoulder may heal completely in a few weeks. In an older person, a serious fracture may require months to heal, and normal shoulder motion may never return.
Initial treatment focuses on keeping the injured shoulder from moving by using a sling or shoulder immobilizer, applying ice, and taking measures to relieve pain. Early physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder and regain motion is important for recovery. Surgery may be needed in some cases. An untreated shoulder fracture may result in long-term pain, limited shoulder movement, and deformity.
Last Revised: August 23, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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