Fracture of the Shoulder Blade (Scapula)
Scapular fractures are uncommon, but do occur, requiring a large amount of force to fracture. They are usually the result of intense trauma, such as a high-speed motor vehicle accident or a fall from a height onto one’s back. They can also occur from a fall on an outstretched arm if the humeral head impacts on the glenoid cavity.
Symptoms of a scapular fracture include the following:
- Pain: Pain is usually severe and immediate following injury to the scapula.
- Swelling: The scapular area quickly swells following the injury.
- Bruising: Bruising occurs soon after injury.
- Impaired mobility: Decreased range of motion of the joint occurs, often with the inability to straighten the arm.
- Numbness: Numbness, tingling, or coldness of the hand and forearm can occur if blood supply is impaired or nerves are injured.
- Popping sound: A cracking or popping sound, also referred to as crepitus, can often be heard or felt at the time of the fracture.
Scapular fractures should be evaluated by an orthopaedic surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Your surgeon will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. Diagnostic studies may include X-rays, CT scan and MRI scan.
Most scapular fractures are not significantly displaced due to the strong supporting soft tissue structures surrounding it. Therefore, a majority of scapular fractures are treated conservatively and with early motion to reduce the risk of stiffness, and will usually heal without affecting the shoulder movement.
Conservative treatment options include:
- Immobilisation: A sling is used for comfort and support until healing takes place. This is usually worn about 3-6 weeks depending on the type of fracture and how well you heal.
- Prescription medications: Pain medications will be prescribed for your comfort during the healing process.
- Physiotherapy: Early progressive range of motion exercises is essential in restoring full shoulder function. Your physician will most likely refer you to a physiotherapist for instructions on proper exercises and early motion of the shoulder, to prevent complications.
Fractures of the scapula, involving the neck or glenoid, or with a severe displacement that has been associated with poor outcomes when treated non-operatively, will usually require surgical intervention to realign the bones properly and restore a functional, pain-free range of motion to the shoulder joint.
Scapular fracture repair surgery has historically been performed through a large open incision. Newer, minimally invasive techniques have evolved, and surgery to repair scapular fractures can now be performed through arthroscopy.
- Shoulder Pain
- Rotator Cuff Tear
- Shoulder Impingement
- SLAP Tears
- Shoulder Joint Arthritis
- Frozen Shoulder
- Shoulder Instability
- Shoulder Separation
- Shoulder Labral Tear
- Shoulder Dislocation
- Distal Biceps Rupture
- AC Joint Injuries
- Shoulder Trauma
- Clavicle Fracture
- Fractures of the Shoulder Blade
- Broken Arm
- Forearm Fractures in Children
- Elbow Fractures in Children
- Olecranon Fractures
- Radial Head Fractures
- Distal Humerus Fractures of Elbow
- Shoulder Injuries in Throwing Athletes