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Shoulder Fracture

Is your shoulder appearing out of place, and has a little ‘bumpy swell’ in a particular area? Do you feel this excruciating pain when you try to use your arm? Is your arm getting discolored?

If you just had a terrible fall or direct hit to your shoulder, or you have been involved in an automobile accident and you’re having these symptoms, do not delay, contact a physical therapist right now, your shoulder may be fractured. Call us right away to request an appointment with a physical therapist.

A fracture to the shoulder causes pain, soreness, tenderness, and swelling, and limits the full motion of the shoulder. In some cases, you may not be able to move your shoulder unless it is treated.

Seeing a PT as soon as you feel any pain or start developing other symptoms is important because you can begin treatment quickly and stop the fracture from getting worse. You also get to avoid surgery and those harmful pain medications.

Displaced or Non-displaced shoulder fracture
The shoulder is made up of three bones, namely; the upper arm bone (Hemurus), the collar bone (clavicle), and the shoulder blade (scapula). A shoulder fracture is an injury to any of the shoulder bones and may result in the bone breaking or cracking. Shoulder fractures can be displaced or non-displaced. Non-displaced fractures are very common; they make up 80% of all shoulder fractures. In a non-displaced shoulder fracture, the bones remain in their correct position despite the fracture. While in a displaced fracture, the pieces of the broken bone move out of their position. Non-displaced fractures are treated non-surgically, while displaced fractures will need surgery to align the bones together.
Types of Shoulder Fracture
The types of shoulder fracture are according to the shoulder bones. They include:

Proximal humerus fracture:

Your humerus (upper arm bone), has a ball at its tip, that fits into the shoulder blade socket. This type of fracture affects the ball. It might be right at the ball, or just beneath it. This fracture type is more common with older people as they may have started experiencing osteoporosis. Although it can happen to anyone. Other fractures to the humerus bone may occur at the mid bone or the end (near the elbow). They don’t affect the shoulder as much.

Clavicle fracture:

This is a fracture to the collar bone. It is the most common type of shoulder fracture. It usually occurs as a result of a fall or direct hit to the shoulder. There is always difficulty associated with raising the shoulder.

Scapula fracture:

This type of fracture is very rare. It accounts for just 3% -5% of all shoulder fractures. It is usually a result of motor vehicle accidents or a very far fall. Usually, this is accompanied by other damages such as lung injuries, rib fractures, and nerve injuries.

Causes of Shoulder Fracture
Causes of shoulder features include:

A far fall. For instance, from a building or a horse

A direct hit to the shoulder. For instance, from contact sports such as football

Traumatic events such as automobile accidents

Symptoms of a Shoulder Fracture
Visible symptoms include:

Pain the shoulder even when at rest

Tenderness to touch, and redness

Bruising or swelling at the affected area

The upper arm is discolored

Inability to move the shoulder

Shoulder instability or a feeling of the shoulder ‘giving way’

Your shoulder appears deformed, and a ‘bump’ shows at the affected area

Diagnosis for Shoulder Fractures
One of our physical therapists will examine your shoulder, and feel for the affected area. You will have to undergo an X-ray with your doctor, so the shoulder and the area of the fracture can be seen. For a more detailed diagnosis to determine the exact location and how bad the fracture is, a CT scan, an MRI or Musculoskeletal ultrasound may be carried out.
Treatment options for Shoulder Fracture
As mentioned earlier, non-displaced fractures are usually treated nonsurgically, while displaced fractures are treated surgically.

For non-surgical treatment, physical therapy is recommended. Your physical therapist will first put your arm in a sling to reduce movement.

Then manual therapy and therapeutic exercises will be performed to restore the shoulder. Modalities like ice or heat may also be used. Your PT will create a specific plan for you.

For shoulder fracture surgery, the pieces of the bones are aligned together. A shoulder replacement might be needed if the damage is severe, and the bones can’t be aligned.

After surgery, you’ll keep your shoulder in a sling, and let it heal before you begin physical therapy

Physical Therapy for Shoulder Fractures
Whether your shoulder fracture requires surgery or not, a well-structured rehab program is essential to promote quick healing, flexibility, and strength to the shoulder. Polygon PT offers physical therapy for shoulder fractures. Depending on the severity of your shoulder fracture, you may be able to use your shoulder for minimal tasks in weeks. Complete recovery especially for surgery may take a couple of months. If you have had a shoulder fracture or shoulder surgery, request an appointment with us for a structured physical therapy and rehab program.