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Shoulder Fractures (Glenoid, Scapula, Proximal Humerus)


The shoulder is a pretty resilient part of the body⎯until it’s hit with strong force or a direct blow. Then it can break one or more of these areas: glenoid (shallow cavity), scapula (shoulder blade) and humerus (upper arm bone). A fracture of the head of the humerus – the “ball” of the shoulder’s ball-and-socket.


Shoulder Fractures

Causes & Triggers

This type of fracture can be caused by direct trauma to the shoulder. It commonly affects elderly people whose bones have been weakened by osteoporosis.

  • Blunt-force trauma
  • Collision
  • Direct blow
  • Fall

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, and inability to move the arm.

  • Apparent deformity
  • Bruising
  • Grinding
  • Limited ability or inability to move shoulder
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Tips & Treatment

Treatment options depend on the severity of the fracture. If the bones have not shifted, the fracture may be treated with a sling. If the bones have become displaced, surgery is needed to realign and anchor the bones or to replace the joint.

  • Because the chest bones and muscles protect it, the scapula is not easily fractured.
  • Surgery is not usually required for clavicle or proximal humerus fractures unless bones are displaced.
  • Treatment of glenoid fractures varies, so seek the medical evaluation and opinion of a well-qualified orthopedic specialist.

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