Shoulder fractures can result from a fall on the shoulder, a motor vehicle accident, contact sports, etc.
The shoulder is a complex joint connecting the arm to the body. The shoulder bones include the humerus (upper arm bone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collarbone) (Figure 1). The upper end of the humerus has a ball-like shape that connects with the socket of the scapula, called the glenoid. Disruption of any of the parts of the shoulder can create difficulty with its function.
Types of Shoulder Fractures
The type of fracture varies by age. Most fractures in children occur in the clavicle bone. In adults, the most common fracture is of the top part of the humerus (proximal humerus). Some types include:
- Clavicle Fractures: This is the most common shoulder fracture, frequently the result of a fall (Figure 2).
- Scapula Fractures: Fractures of this bone rarely occur. They usually result from high-energy trauma such as motor vehicle accidents or a far fall.
- Proximal Humerus Fractures: Fractures of the upper part of the arm are more common in the older (over 65 years of age) population. Sometimes, there are just cracks in the bones, but they have not moved very far out of their normal position.
Some fractures are diagnosed using x-rays. Sometimes, a CT scan is needed to see more detail.