An Overview of Shoulder Fractures
Fractures that occur within the structure of the shoulder joint can appear as a break or a crack in the bone on an X-ray. A shoulder fracture is generally classified based on which bone (clavicle, humerus, or scapula) is involved. A shoulder fracture can occur when sudden force, impact, or trauma has been sustained to the shoulder joint. Hard falls during sporting events or motor vehicle trauma are examples of possible causes of fractures in the shoulder. Dr. Jeff Padalecki, orthopedic shoulder specialist, serving Austin, Round Rock, and Cedar Park, Texas communities, is experienced in treating these shoulder injuries and returning patients to an active lifestyle if shoulder fracture protocols are followed.
There are 3 distinct bones within the shoulder that could sustain a fracture: The collarbone (clavicle) is the most common place where a fracture may exist; the upper arm bone (proximal humerus) can be fractured and is often related to poor bone density; a fracture of the shoulder blade (scapula) is less common, but usually occurs during a high-energy impact.
What is a Displaced or Non-Displaced Fracture?
Fractures are classified as being displaced or non-displaced. In a non-displaced fracture, the broken pieces line up on each side of the break. Displaced fractures, in which the pieces on either side of the break are out of line, may require some type of manipulation to restore normal anatomy. Occasionally the rotator cuff muscles are injured or torn at the same time as the fracture, which can further complicate the treatment.
What are the Symptoms of a Shoulder Fracture?
Shoulder fractures are usually characterized by pain with motion or palpation of the shoulder. Other symptoms include swelling or bruising of the shoulder area, a bump or bulge at the site of the break, or an inability to move the arm without pain.
How are Shoulder Fractures Diagnosed?
A physical examination reveals pain over the bone, and often swelling or bruising is present. X-rays typically show the fracture. However, in more serious cases, 3-D imaging, such as CT scans or MRIs are often ordered to get a better picture of the fracture pattern.