Scapular Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade

Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade: The scapula or the shoulder blade is a triangle shaped bone which is surrounded by a complicated web of muscles. A fracture of this bone is termed as a Scapula or Broken Shoulder Blade. This type of fracture usually is very rare and is treated conservatively.

In this article, we will read about:

How Do We Define Scapula Fracture Or Broken Shoulder Blade?

As the name suggests a Scapula fracture is a fracture of the scapula or the shoulder blade. Normally, the scapula is pretty well protected by a web of muscles and it is very rare that the scapula sustains a fracture but if there is a Scapula Fracture then it gives an indication that the shoulder must have been injured with a significant amount of force coupled with significant trauma to the chest. The most common cause of Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade are high speed automobile accidents but falls and blows to the region can also result in Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade.

 

Causes of Scapula Fracture Or Broken Shoulder Blade

As stated, high speed automobile accidents, blunt trauma, or significant fall are some of the causes of a Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade. Often at times when there is a Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade, there will be injuries to other body parts also like fracture of the collarbone, ribs, head injury, injury to the lungs or spinal cord.

In Case Of A Scapula Fracture Or Broken Shoulder Blade, More Than One Part Of The Scapula May Get Fractured Like

  • Scapular body
  • Scapular neck
  • Glenoid
  • Acromion
  • Coracoid

 

Symptoms Of Scapula Fracture Or Broken Shoulder Blade

Some Of The Symptoms Of Scapula Fracture Or Broken Shoulder Blade Are:

  • Excruciating pain with any type of movement of the arm
  • Swelling at the back of shoulder
  • Significant bruising at the injured site

Diagnosis of Scapula Fracture Or Broken Shoulder Blade

To diagnose a Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade, the treating physician will conduct a detailed history of injury and conduct a thorough physical examination of the injured shoulder. Since, there are other injuries as well accompanied by Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade, the physician will also look for additional injuries to other parts. The physician will look for any type of damage to the soft tissue structures etc. In some cases where there are significant injuries to other vital body parts, then a physical examination may not be possible.

Apart from a thorough physical examination, the treating physician may also order imaging studies of the shoulder and chest area to look at the degree of injury to the scapular region. X-rays generally provide a clear picture of structures like bone. Apart from x-rays, a CT scan may also be ordered.

 

Treatment For Scapula Fracture Or Broken Shoulder Blade

Nonsurgical Treatment For Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade

Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade is usually treated conservatively with simple immobilization using a sling. The sling holds the shoulder in place during the healing phase. The physician may ask the individual to start moving the shoulder after a week postinjury to reduce the possibility of resultant stiffness of the shoulder and elbow. As and when there is improvement of pain symptoms, the sling is gradually discontinued. Passive stretching exercises during the rehabilitation phase are continued till there is full range of motion of the shoulder. The rehabilitation phase takes about six months to complete.

Surgical Treatment For Scapula Fracture or Broken Shoulder Blade

There are certain types of Scapula Fractures which may require surgical intervention. These fractures include:
Displaced glenoid articular surface fracture
Angulated fractures of neck of the scapula
Acromion process fractures causing impingement
The surgical procedure entails realigning the bone fragments to their normal position and keeping them in place with the help of screws and metallic plates.

 

Exercises For Scapula Fracture Or Broken Shoulder Blade

Some Of The Exercises Done Post-surgery For Scapular Stabilization Are:

Shoulder Blade Squeezes: To do this exercise, start by standing tall with the back straight. Squeeze the shoulder blades together as much as possible without aggravating pain. Maintain this position for about 5 seconds and repeat around 10 times.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze Exercise for Scapular Fracture

Pendular Exercises: Start this exercise by leaning forwards with uninjured arm placed on a table. Keep the back straight and relax the shoulder. Now, gently swing the affected arm forward and backward as far as possible without aggravating pain. Do it for around 10 times. Now, do the same exercise by moving the arm sideways.

Pendular Exercise for Scapular Fracture

Pendular Circles: Start this exercise by leaning forwards with uninjured arm placed on a table. Keep the back straight and relax the shoulder. Now, slowly swing the injured arm in a circular fashion clockwise as far as possible without increasing pain. Repeat this by moving it anticlockwise. Do it about 10 times in each direction.

Pendular Circle Exercise for Scapular Fracture

Wall Crawl: To do this exercise, you need to stand straight and face a wall. Place a hand on the wall and move the fingers up the wall as far as possible without increasing pain. Try and repeat this about 10 times.

Wall Crawl Exercise for Scapular Fracture

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 2, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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