Broken Shoulder Treatment (Proximal Humerus Fracture Repair) in Atlanta & Surrounding Areas

Proximal humerus fracture treatment, more commonly referred to as broken shoulder surgery, is a procedure that realigns and stabilizes fractured bones in the upper arm (humerus), and aids in their proper healing. Here, you will learn more about what proximal humerus fracture treatment is, why it's performed, and how it can help you get moving again.

What Is Broken Shoulder Treatment? 

Broken shoulder treatment is a surgical procedure specifically aimed at mending fractures located in the proximal end of the humerus, the upper arm bone. If you've suffered a broken shoulder, proximal humerus surgery might be recommended to restore your shoulder's function and facilitate proper healing. The goal of this procedure is to reposition the fractured bone segments precisely, and restore them to their original alignment. This surgical approach promotes optimal healing and preserves the integrity of the shoulder's anatomical structure.

Why Is Proximal Humerus Fracture Surgery Performed?

In most cases, if bone fragments are not displaced, you may be able to get shoulder fracture treatment without surgery. This may involve wearing a sling or shoulder immobilizer for a few weeks before moving into a physical therapy regime that incrementally improves the range of motion in the shoulder.

When bone fragments are shifted more than 5mm or at an angle exceeding 45 degrees, broken shoulder surgery needs to be performed to repair mobility. Several factors are considered when deciding between nonoperative treatment and an ORIF (open reduction and internal fixation) surgery. ORIF is considered when:

  • Bone fragments are noticeably out of place, needing realignment through surgery.
  • The fracture breaks the skin, ORIF surgery helps prevent infection and promote healing.
  • Fractures break the humerus into several pieces, ORIF surgery promotes stable fusion.

These indications apply to fractures near the shoulder and elbow as well. At Resurgens Orthopaedics, our shoulder specialists will discuss your options and provide personalized care to guide you toward the best outcome.

How To Prepare for a Broken Shoulder Surgery

Your Resurgens physician will guide you through how to prepare for shoulder surgery and encourage you to address any inquiries. Prior to the procedure, you'll grant consent by signing a form; take your time to review it carefully and seek clarification if needed.

Your doctor will perform a physical exam, along with blood tests and other diagnostics to ensure your wellbeing. Make sure to communicate any medicine, latex, tape, or anesthesia sensitivities, as well as all medications and herbal supplements you're taking. If you have any bleeding disorders, or if you are on any blood-thinning medications, aspirin, or clot-affecting drugs, your healthcare provider might suggest discontinuing them prior to the procedure.

To facilitate a smoother recovery, consider these home preparation steps:

  1. Opt for loose-fitting attire, especially front-button or zip-up shirts, for easier dressing.
  2. Keep extra pillows ready for added comfort during rest.
  3. Clear pathways at home to prevent tripping hazards.
  4. Enhance your bathroom with items like a shower seat, grab bar, or detachable shower head.
  5. Arrange for meal and household assistance from a caregiver, friend, or family member.
  6. Plan alternative transportation since driving is not recommended for the initial six weeks post-surgery.
  7. Keep frequently used items within reach to avoid strain on your arm.
  8. Prior to the procedure, stock up on essentials like toiletries and pre-made meals to alleviate post-surgery tasks.

By preparing your home and understanding the process, you'll be better equipped for a smoother procedure and a more manageable recovery period.

What Happens During a Broken Shoulder Surgery?

To initiate the proximal humerus fracture treatment, you'll be administered general anesthesia or sedation, to ensure you remain comfortable and pain-free throughout the procedure.

An incision is made on the side or front of your arm. This incision provides the orthopedic surgeon with a precise pathway to access the fractured humerus. The surgeon then carefully repositions the bone fragments to realign them.

The next step involves repairing and stabilizing the fractured humerus. A specialized metal plate is skillfully positioned over the humerus to reinforce its structure. To secure the plate in place and ensure stability during the healing process, surgical screws are meticulously inserted and anchored to the bone. Imaging techniques are employed to validate the accuracy of fragment alignment, the positioning of the metal plate and screws, and to assess the range of motion.

Are There Risks Associated With Proximal Humerus Fracture Surgery?

Although most of these are uncommon, just like with any surgical procedure, there is a potential for risks and complications, which may include:

Infection Bleeding Anesthesia complications Nerve damage Scarring Blood clots Organ damage Poor wound healing

Some medical conditions may also occur as a result of proximal humerus fracture repair surgery:

  • Subacromial Impingement: Compression and inflammation of structures between the shoulder blade's acromion and humerus head.
  • Frozen Shoulder: Manifesting as pain and stiffness in the shoulder.
  • Nerve Damage: Potential injury to nerves during the procedure.
  • Screw Penetration: The possibility of screws penetrating the articular surface of the humeral head.
  • Avascular Necrosis: Occurrence of bone death due to compromised blood supply to fracture fragments.

Your orthopedic shoulder surgeon at Resurgens Orthopaedics will discuss these aspects with you to ensure a well-informed decision and personalized care throughout your journey.

Broken Shoulder Recovery

Once the surgery for proximal humerus fracture repair is done, the incision is closed with sutures or staples, and a bandage is applied. Some discomfort and swelling is normal and can be managed with ice and prescribed pain medications. About 3-4 weeks later, you will begin physical therapy to restore shoulder strength and flexibility. Broken shoulder recovery time typically takes somewhere between 8-12 weeks. Each person's needs are unique, and you deserve a tailored fractured shoulder recovery plan. Find a Resurgens orthopedic shoulder specialist today to get moving again.

Virtual After-Hours Access

Resurgens Orthopaedics has partnered with the HURT! app to offer FREE virtual after-hours access to orthopedic specialists right when you need it.

Receive immediate guidance on your injury!