Shoulder fractures are usually caused by direct impact or by falling onto an outstretched hand. They most often involve the neck of the humerus (the top of the upper arm bone located just below the shoulder joint), but may affect the collarbone (clavicle) or the shoulder blade (scapula). They may also be fatigue fractures (an injury called “Little Leaguer’s Shoulder”).
- Humeral fracture: This type of fracture occurs most often in young people and adults over 60. In young people, it is most common in those who participate in throwing sports. In older people, it is often the result of a fall and may be more frequent in those with osteoporosis. Treatment typically involves immobilization with a sling and physical therapy to restore good range of motion.
- Clavicular fracture: The collarbones are the most commonly fractured bones in children and adolescents. Fractures are generally caused by a fall, but may also occur as a result of direct impact. These fractures are typically treated with a figure-eight bandage or sling. Surgery is rarely necessary unless it is a compound fracture or is affecting the neurovascular system.
- Scapular fracture: Fractures of the shoulder blade generally occur from a direct blow, a fall, or high-energy trauma. Depending on which section of the scapula was fractured, conservative treatment may be sufficient, or surgical repair may be necessary.
- Little Leaguer’s Shoulder: This is an overuse injury. Stress of the arm bone (humerus) may cause the growth plate to widen, resulting in swelling and pain. It is most common in young baseball players from 11 to 16 years of age. It will often heal completely with rest, ice, physical therapy, and training on the correct mechanics of pitching and throwing
See a shoulder specialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group if you or your child have symptoms of moderate to severe shoulder pain, decreased ability to move or lift the arm, redness or bruising over the fractured area, or a deformity caused by displaced bone or muscle.