Bouncing Back From a Fractured Shoulder

The shoulder joint reliably allows you to do everything from driving a car and waving hello to a neighbor to carrying heavy groceries and supporting your weight when you work out. Athletes are especially prone to shoulder injuries since the joint may receive impact during contact sports, and a shoulder may break more easily than you’d imagine. What can you expect from your recovery after a shoulder fracture?

Collarbone Break

The clavicle or collarbone is the most commonly broken piece of the shoulder joint. A fall onto your shoulder creates enough force to potentially snap that delicate bone, often in multiple places. Treatment for more simple clavicle fractures is to place the arm in a sling until the bone heals. More complex breaks could require surgery, where pins and plates are used to stitch the bone back together.

Shoulder Blade Fracture

A break of the scapula, or shoulder blade, is a different story. This break is uncommon and is generally caused by sudden violent impact, like a car accident. Most of the time this injury is healed by immobilization, but sometimes the shoulder surgeon will need to operate if the break is at the neck of the scapula where it becomes part of the shoulder joint.

Broken Arm Bone

Your upper arm bone, the humerus, can break from a fall or collision with a solid object, the ground, or another person at a high rate of speed. Two factors play a part into the recovery here, and those are location and alignment. For a simple fracture that does not cause the pieces of bone to shift, a sling works well for healing. However if the pieces of bone are displaced or misaligned, or if the break compromises the shoulder joint, a shoulder surgeon will need to pin the bone or replace the joint.


For any of these cases, you should expect rehabilitation to get the shoulder joint fluid again. In more complex cases, you may have months of physical therapy to rebuild joint strength. It is important to commit to your therapy schedule for the best result possible, otherwise you may be left with reduced function in your shoulder, limiting your range of motion, strength and possibly your lifestyle.

Shoulder fractures can be very complex to correct and are not an injury to disregard. Follow all of the advice your shoulder surgeon provides for an excellent recovery.

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