Shoulder Fracture

  Well done! You’ve taken the first steps to understanding and relieving your Shoulder Fracture! Once you read this page answer the questions on the sheet given by your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia and bring that to your next treatment session. Recovery from your Shoulder Fracture is crucial in order to achieve your goals and gain rapid and long-lasting results. Your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia has requested that you read this page so that you understand your condition and know how to best manage in between physiotherapy consultations.
Shoulder Fracture

Shoulder Fracture

What is a Shoulder Fracture? Typically, a shoulder fracture or broken shoulder refers to a fracture in the arm bone (humerus), or can also potentially refer to the other bones that can be fractured including the shoulder blade (scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). Today, we’re going to specifically look at a Humerus Fracture. There can be different types of Humerus Fractures depending on the location of the fracture. A ‘Head of Humerus’ fracture refers to the top ‘ball’ part of the arm bone whereas a ‘Shaft of Humerus’ fracture refers to anywhere along the length of the bone. A ‘Neck of Humerus’ fracture refers to the intermediary area that connects the head and the shaft. After sustaining a broken shoulder, it can either be ‘displaced’ meaning you may need surgery to re-position the bones correctly or ‘non-displaced‘, which usually does not require surgery. Your shoulder will be very painful, especially in the first 2 weeks. Movement will be very limited and you may have bruising in the area. An X-Ray will be needed to confirm the fracture and to direct the treatment. However, as a general rule, fractures will need to be immobilised for a period of 6-8 weeks, usually in a sling to take the weight off the shoulder.   What caused my Shoulder Fracture? The mechanism of injury for a shoulder fracture is usually trauma, either through the form of falling onto the arm, or through a direct blow to the arm such as in a motor vehicle accident or in contact sports. Depending on the fracture, the presence of neurological symptoms (such as pins and needles, numbness, changed sensations, weakness) means that a nerve has also been damaged. This can be quite common in “Shaft of humerus” fractures as the Radial nerve courses around the humerus to innervate and supply the back of the wrist and hand. If the nerves are injured then surgical intervention may be warranted. Shoulder Fractures Undisplaced vs Displaced How can you help me with my Shoulder Fracture? A detailed history, taken by your Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinician, of the pain or injury can determine the underlying cause of the Shoulder Fracture, while a physical assessment of the shoulder, and surrounding structures, can determine the best course of action in treating the condition. Usually, treatment will involve correcting any abnormal movements of the shoulder, and increasing the subacromial space (the space between the roof of the “socket”, and the “ball” of the shoulder joint), and to gently mobilise the shoulder to maintain any range that is available. Treatment will also vary according to the stage of Shoulder Fracture that you are currently experiencing. As said above, the arm will need to be immobilised for a period of at least 6 weeks. The healing process can take up to 12 months for full recovery. Recovery times vary significantly depending on the severity of the injury, the area affected, the age of the patient and previous level of function.   What should I do to avoid aggravating my Shoulder Fracture?
  • AVOID any aggravating activities, particularly during the acute phase.
  • DO concentrate on maintaining good, erect posture, particularly during activities with that involve the shoulders.
  • Applying non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may help to reduce pain in the short term. CONSULT your PHARMACIST regarding their use.
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, in your other joints, such as the elbow and wrist of the same hand, but avoid aggravating activities.
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles de-loaded and moving freely with no restrictions.
Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your Shoulder Fracture has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.

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