The shoulder consists of three bones which come together to form the shoulder joint: the arm bone or the humerus, the collarbone or the clavicle, and the shoulder blade or the scapula at the glenoid. When an individual sustains damage or injury to the shoulder, any of these bones may be affected. Shoulder fractures may be characterized as any of the following types of injuries and the proper treatment should follow according to the broken bone.
Types of Shoulder Fractures
In the majority of cases, an individual describes a broken shoulder as damage or injury to the proximal humerus. A proximal humerus fracture is an injury to the top of the humerus, or the top of the arm bone, which forms the ball of the ball-and-socket joint in the shoulder. This type of injury can occur in younger individuals as a result of trauma from an accident and can also occur in older individuals as a result of osteoporosis, a condition that causes weakening of the bones in the body. In fact, in people over the age of 65, proximal humerus fractures are the third most common broken bone after hip and wrist fractures.
Clavicle fractures are the most common type of shoulder fracture. The clavicle, also known as the collarbone, is the bone over the top of the chest, located between the sternum, or breastbone, and the scapula, or shoulder blade. Broken collarbones can occur in a wide range of age groups, from newborns to the elderly. This injury can occur in babies during birth and in children, adolescent, and athletes due to developmental issues or during many types of accidents and falls.
Glenoid fractures are generally uncommon. The glenoid is the socket of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint and it is part of the scapula (shoulder blade). Glenoid fractures most often result when there is considerable trauma to the shoulder, or as a result of sports injuries.
Scapula fractures are also considered to be uncommon injuries. The scapula, or shoulder blade, is a wide, flat bone that rests behind the rib cage. Part of the scapula is covered with cartilage and forms the socket of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint. Scapular fractures are considered rare injuries and these normally occur with significant trauma from an accident such as automobile collisions or a fall from a considerable height. Often times, scapular fractures may also result in chest injuries.
Individuals suspecting injury to the bones surrounding the shoulder joint should look for immediate medical attention. Signs and symptoms suggesting shoulder fractures include: pain with simple shoulder movements, swelling of the shoulder and arm, bruising around the affected area that may travel down the arm, and joint deformity.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez