Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Broken Shoulder Overview

Another name for Broken Shoulder is Shoulder Fracture.

What is a shoulder fracture?
A person with a shoulder fracture has broken one of the bones that make up the shoulder joint. Most shoulder fractures involve the upper portion of the humerus, below the shoulder joint. The humerus is the long arm bone between the shoulder and the elbow. The most common causes of shoulder fracture are a direct impact to the shoulder joint, or a fall onto the elbow. Fractures of the humerus account for 5 percent of all fractures. A fracture of the scapula is rare.

What are the symptoms of a shoulder fracture?
Symptoms of a shoulder fracture include shoulder pain, bruising, swelling, or tenderness. Additional symptoms of a shoulder fracture may include arm weakness, arm numbness, or a deformed shoulder.

How does the doctor treat a shoulder fracture?
Treatment for a shoulder fracture includes rest, a sling, cold compresses, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or narcotic pain medications. Additional treatment for a shoulder fracture may include surgery and physical therapy.

Continue to Broken Shoulder Incidence

Last Updated: Sep 28, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Broken Shoulder References
  1. Ameh V, Crane S. Nerve injury following shoulder dislocation: the emergency physician's perspective. Eur J Emerg Med. 2006 Aug;13(4):233-5. [16816589]
  2. Emond M, Le Sage N, Lavoie A, Rochette L. Clinical factors predicting fractures associated with an anterior shoulder dislocation. Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Aug;11(8):853-8.[15289192]
  3. Flinkkila T, Hyvonen P, Siira P, Hamalainen M. Recovery of shoulder joint function after humeral shaft fracture: a comparative study between antegrade intramedullary nailing and plate fixation. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2004 Oct;124(8):537-41. [15338242]
  4. Ide J, Honda K, Takagi K. Posterior dislocation of the shoulder associated with fracture of the humeral anatomical neck with 11-year follow-up after early open reduction and internal fixation. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2003 Apr;123(2-3):118-20. [12721692]
  5. Lim KE, Wang CR, Chin KC, Chen CJ, Tsai CC, Bullard MJ. Concomitant fracture of the coracoid and acromion after direct shoulder trauma. J Orthop Trauma. 1996;10(6):437-9. [8854324]
  6. Safran MR. Nerve injury about the shoulder in athletes, part 1: suprascapular nerve and axillary nerve. Am J Sports Med. 2004 Apr-May;32(3):803-19. [15090401]
  7. Serin E, Karatosun V, Balci C, Koseoglu HC, Ersoy HH. Two-prong splint in the treatment of proximal humeral fracture. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 1999;119(7-8):368-70. [10613221]
  8. Shao YC, Harwood P, Grotz MR, Limb D, Giannoudis PV. Radial nerve palsy associated with fractures of the shaft of the humerus: a systematic review. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2005 Dec;87(12):1647-52. [16326879]
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