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Medical professional examining patient's shoulder
Medical professional examining patient's shoulder
Medical professional examining patient's shoulder

Scapula Fracture (Shoulder Blade Fracture)

What You Need to Know
  • Direct trauma is usually the cause of most scapula fractures.
  • Pain, swelling and bruising are the most common symptoms.
  • Only about 10 percent of scapula fractures require surgery.
  • Nonoperative treatments include the use of a sling or shoulder immobilizer, ice and pain medications.

What is a scapula fracture?

The scapula, or shoulder blade, is the bone located in the back of your shoulder between the shoulder and the spine. It is generally easy to feel.

Fractures of the scapula are most often caused by direct trauma from the back or side.

What are the symptoms of a scapula fracture?

  • Pain at rest
  • Pain when moving the arm
  • Swelling
  • Severe bruising

What is the treatment for a scapula fracture?

Most fractures of the scapula can be treated without surgery. Treatment involves immobilization with a sling or a shoulder immobilizer, icing and pain medications.

The sling is usually kept for comfort for the first two weeks with subsequent increase of the shoulder’s range of motion. However, there are no restrictions on shoulder motion: mobility, weight-bearing and weight lifting as tolerated.

Fractures that require surgery usually have fracture fragments involving the shoulder joint or an additional fracture of the clavicle. Surgery involves fixation of the fracture fragments with plates and screws.

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