An Overview on Shoulder Fractures
Trauma to the shoulder is common and the majority of individuals will injure this joint at some point in their lives. A shoulder fracture is a common shoulder injury caused by a direct blow to the area from a fall, sports collision or automobile accident. These fractures occur within the structure of the shoulder joint and appear as a break or crack in X-rays. A shoulder fracture is classified by which bone is involved, such as a humerus fracture. Dr. Nikhil Verma, orthopedic shoulder specialist treating patients in the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area, is extremely experienced in treating these shoulder injuries and returning patients to an active lifestyle.
There are three distinct bones that can experience a fracture:
- The collarbone, or clavicle fracture
- The upper arm bone, or humerus fracture
- The shoulder blade, or scapula fracture
A clavicle fracture is most common and is associated with a fall or sports collision. A humerus fracture is often related to poor bone density, and a scapula fracture is the least common and occurs during a high-energy impact.
A shoulder fracture is classified as being displaced or non-displaced. Displaced fractures may require a certain level of manipulation to restore normal anatomy since the pieces on either side of the break or crack are out of line. Non-displaced fractures are characterized by the broken pieces lining up on each side of the break.
Symptoms of a Shoulder Fracture
The symptoms of a shoulder fracture are typically easily recognized since they include immediate pain following an accident or fall. Other common symptoms include:
- Swelling of the shoulder area
- Tenderness in the affected shoulder
- Bruising or discoloration
- A bump or disfigurement at the break site under the skin
Diagnosis of a Shoulder Fracture
If a fracture is suspected, urgent evaluation at an emergency room or urgent care facility should be considered. Dr. Verma can diagnose a shoulder fracture through a medical history review, physical examination and a series of X-rays. In more serious cases, an MRI or CT scan may be performed to get a better view of the fracture pattern.
Have you sustained a shoulder fracture?
There are two ways to initiate a consultation with Dr. Verma:
You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review with Dr. Verma ($250).
You can schedule an office consultation with Dr.
Treatment of a Shoulder Fracture
Many fractures can be treated with a non-surgical approach. In many cases, a shoulder fracture can be initially treated with a simple sling and limited use of the joint. Once the bone has healed enough, a physical therapy program may be recommended to regain strength and range of motion.
A surgical approach may be recommended in more severe cases with significant displacement of the bone or in cases where the bone does not heal with a non-surgical approach. Some fractures are better treated with surgery to eliminate the risk of arthritis and facilitate healing and restoration of function. A humerus fracture and a clavicle fracture are commonly treated surgically in active patients if there is significant separation of the bone ends.
Dr. Verma is experienced in numerous surgery techniques associated with treating a shoulder fracture. He may use an arthroscopic technique to perform the fixation. He may perform open reduction and internal fixation. This technique requires him to open up the skin at the fracture site, realign the bones and then pin or plate them together. The appropriate surgery will be dependent on several factors including the patient’s age, activity level and injury severity.
For additional resources regarding a shoulder fracture, please contact Dr. Nikhil Verma, shoulder specialist serving the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area.