What is a shoulder fracture?

There are three bones that connect to form the shoulder girdle: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). When any one or more of these bones becomes broken, it results in a condition known as a shoulder fracture. The majority of shoulder fractures often occur from a traumatic event such as a motor vehicle collision or a forceful and direct blow to the bone itself. Athletes who participate in sports involving aggressive contact typically have the highest likelihood of experiencing a shoulder fracture. However, children, teens, and older adults with lower bone densities can develop a shoulder fracture from a minor injury. Most patients report pain, swelling, and/or tenderness near the fracture site that results in a decreased range of motion.

What is the treatment for a shoulder fracture?

Individuals diagnosed with a non-displaced shoulder fracture may benefit from a trial of non-surgical therapies. The shoulder girdle is realigned with a sling or other immobilization device to prevent further damage. A combination of rest, ice, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can be beneficial for minimizing any pain and inflammation.

However, if non-surgical therapies prove unsuccessful, or if bone displacement occurs with a shoulder fracture, surgical reconstruction of the shoulder girdle may be necessary. The goal of surgical intervention is to situate the bones back into the correct anatomical configuration and restore function back to the shoulder girdle. The surgical repair of a shoulder fracture uses metal plates and screws to realign the bone fragments. Dr. Ronak Mukesh Patel, orthopedic shoulder doctor, treats patients in Sugar Land, Pearland, and the Houston, Texas area who have experienced a shoulder fracture and are in need of surgical repair.

How is a shoulder fracture repaired?

A shoulder fracture is surgically reconstructed through a two-part procedure known as open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). A nerve block is typically administered for anesthesia prior to the procedure and can persist for several hours after surgery. Once stabilized, an incision is created over the fracture site and Dr. Patel begins the open reduction where the bone fragments are manually manipulated into their original anatomical configuration and alignment. When the fragmented ends are correctly situated, they are fixated internally with the application of metal plates and special surgical screws. The use of these special surgical implants enable the bone fragments to properly fuse together and restore function back to the shoulder girdle. When the necessary repairs have been completed, the surgical instruments are removed and the incisions are closed with sutures.

Shoulder Fracture | Houston TX

What is the recovery period like after a shoulder fracture repair?

The severity of the shoulder fracture and any additional injuries often determine the recovery period following a successful shoulder fracture repair. Most patients can expect a return to normal daily activities in approximately 3 months with continued improvement in shoulder range of motion for several more months following surgery. Patients in the Houston, Texas area can anticipate immediate immobilization of the shoulder with the application of a sling or other medical device to protect the shoulder fracture repairs during the healing process. Adhering to and completing the physical rehabilitation program designated by Dr. Patel is the key to a successful recovery following a shoulder fracture repair. This physical therapy program typically begins 2-4 weeks after surgery and aims to strengthen and restore movement to the shoulder girdle.

Shoulder Fracture Surgeon

Are you an athlete who participates in aggressive contact sports? If so, you may be at risk of suffering a shoulder fracture. Broken shoulder symptoms include pain, swelling, and/or tenderness near the fracture site that results in a decreased range of motion. If the fracture is severe or displaced, surgery may need to be performed to secure the bones into position for proper healing. Fractured shoulder surgeon, Doctor Ronak Mukesh Patel, provides surgical expertise for patients in Houston, Sugar Land, and Pearland, TX who have suffered a shoulder fracture. Contact Dr. Patel’s team today!