Broken Shoulder (Proximal Humerus Fracture)

A proximal humerus fracture, also known as a broken shoulder or humeral head fracture, is a fracture of the head of the humerus (or the"ball" of the shoulder's ball-and-socket).

What You Need To Know About A Broken Shoulder

What Is A Broken Shoulder?

A broken shoulder, or proximal humerus fracture, is a painful condition where the ball portion of the shoulder breaks. When working properly, the ball (or head of the humerus) fits into the socket of your shoulder. This anatomy allows for free and easy movement in the shoulder joint.

When a proximal humerus fracture occurs, the connection between the ball and socket is interrupted, causing debilitating pain and limited range of motion.

If you're struggling with broken shoulder symptoms, get moving again by scheduling an appointment with a Resurgens Orthopaedics shoulder physician.

What Causes a Broken Shoulder

There are several potential causes for a broken shoulder. This fracture often occurs as a result of direct injury to the shoulder, such as falling, car accidents, or other blunt trauma.

Athletes or people who live active lifestyles may be more at risk of a proximal humerus fracture since these activities have an increased risk of injury. People with osteoporosis or shoulder osteoarthritis may also be at higher risk of a broken shoulder.

Broken Shoulder Symptoms

Proximal humerus fracture symptoms often begin with sudden, severe shoulder pain resulting from a direct blow to the shoulder. When the injury occurs, you may feel a grinding or snapping in your shoulder.

Other broken shoulder symptoms include:

  • Bruising

  • Swelling

  • Difficulty moving the arm or shoulder

  • Tenderness

  • Bleeding

  • Open Wounds

  • Deformity in the shoulder

How Is A Broken Shoulder Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose a proximal humerus fracture, a Resurgens shoulder physician will talk with you about your medical history and how the condition started. Then, they will perform a brief physical exam to check your pain levels and range of motion. This exam is quick and only causes slight discomfort.

After the physical exam, your doctor will order diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or MRI scans. This will help them rule out any other potential shoulder conditions. Then, they will talk with you about your humerus fracture treatment options and plan your recovery.

Broken Shoulder Treatment

Every injury is different, and treatment options for proximal humerus fracture vary depending on the severity of the injury. There are both surgical and non-surgical options for proximal humerus fracture treatment.

Non-Surgical Treatment

If the injury is mild to moderate it may respond to non-surgical methods. Some non-surgical treatments include:

  • Rest

  • Immobilization with a sling or wrap

  • NSAIDs to manage pain

  • Physical therapy

Surgical Treatment

If the injury is not responding to non-surgical methods, it may require surgical intervention. Procedures like ORIF Surgery for a Proximal Humerus Fracture can help repair severe breaks in the "ball" end of the humerus. This procedure augments the existing bone structure with a metal component, allowing the humerus to heal properly.

If you are experiencing debilitating pain in your shoulder, schedule an appointment with a Resurgens shoulder physician today.

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