Shoulder blade fractures account for less than 1 percent of all broken bones, and can usually be treated non-surgically. The shoulder blade is protected by a complex system of surrounding muscles, so it is very rare to fracture the shoulder blade.
High impact, blunt trauma injuries — such as those experienced in vehicle or motorcycle collision, or falling from a great height — can cause shoulder blade injury. Other major injuries almost always accompany a shoulder blade fracture, including fractures of the shoulder, collarbone and ribs or damage to the head, lungs or spinal cord.
Symptoms of shoulder blade fracture include: extreme pain in the movement of the arm, swelling around the back of the shoulder and scrapes around the affected area.
Most shoulder blade fractures are treated non-surgically. Patients will wear a sling to hold the shoulder in place while the bone heals. Your doctor may want you to begin gentle movement within the first week of their injury, in order to minimize the risk of frozen shoulder, or shoulder and elbow stiffness. The sling will be removed as the patient’s pain level decreases. Complete shoulder motion may not return for 6 months to 1 year.
Certain types of shoulder fracture may need surgery. If the bones are displaced, surgery will be necessary to reposition the bones in their normal alignment. They’re held together with metal plates and special screws. The surgery is followed by the normal non-surgical treatment of shoulder blade fractures.
Pain after this type of injury will occur. Your doctor will work with you to reduce your pain, in order to speed up your recovery process. Medications may be prescribed to manage the pain for a short time, but your doctor will want to minimize the need for opioids. Opioid dependency and overdose have become a critical heath issue in the U.S. and it is extremely important to only use opioids as directed by your doctors. As soon as your pain begins to improve, you shoulder stop the use of any opioids. If your pain has not begun to improve within a few days of treatment, talk to your doctor.