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Broken Shoulder Blade

Surgery

Surgical treatment may be needed for certain types of scapular fractures, mostly those involving the shoulder socket (glenoid) or neck of the shoulder blade. Early consultation with an orthopedic surgeon (a surgeon who specializes in bone injuries) will help determine what course of treatment is best for you.

Other Therapy

Early physical therapy with exercises designed to improve the range of shoulder motion usually is started about one week after the injury. It is important to start these exercises early to avoid a frozen shoulder. A loss of motion in the shoulder can occur if the shoulder is not used for a prolonged period.

Next Steps Follow-up

Broken shoulder blades should receive ongoing treatment by an orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine specialist to ensure proper healing.

  • Follow the instructions you are given when you leave the hospital and avoid potential trauma while recovering.
  • Pain medications and immobilization will likely be needed to control pain while early in the recovery period.

Prevention

Broken shoulder blades can be prevented by avoiding high-risk activities such as the following:

  • Activities with potential for falls from significant heights such as rock climbing, hang-gliding, or skydiving
  • Contact sports
  • Driving without a seatbelt

Outlook

Most fractures of the shoulder blade heal without complications within 6-8 weeks. Fractures that involve the shoulder socket or scapular neck develop more complications.

  • Complications may include the following:
    • Loss of range of motion
    • Loss of strength
    • Persistent pain
    • Early arthritis
  • Many people with scapular fractures have other serious injuries, and their prognosis depends on the nature of these other injuries.

Synonyms and Keywords

scapula fracture, fractured shoulder blade, broken scapula, broken shoulder blade

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on February 20, 2015
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