Broken Shoulder

What is a fracture?

A fracture is a break in the bone. Fractures occur when a force is applied to the bone that is greater than the bone’s strength.

There are two general categories of fracture:

  • In a nondisplaced fracture, the bone is broken but has not shifted or moved out of position.
  • In a displaced fracture, the bone has shifted and the fractured ends of the bone are no longer in proper alignment.

Your treatment options will depend on the location and category of the fracture.

What is a broken shoulder?

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. A proximal humerus fracture, commonly called a broken shoulder, is a break in the top of the upper arm bone, where the ball of the arm meets the shoulder socket.

Learn more about shoulder anatomy

What causes a broken shoulder?

There are two main causes of a proximal humerus fracture. They are:

  • A break caused by injury, such as an accident or fall
  • A break caused by weakening of the bones, which can happen as a result of osteoporosis, bone tumors, or other conditions

What are the symptoms of a broken shoulder?

Common symptoms of a proximal humerus fracture include:

  • Pain in the upper arm and shoulder
  • Swelling in the upper arm or shoulder
  • Difficulty moving your arm or shoulder

How is a broken shoulder diagnosed?

In many cases, your doctor can diagnose the fracture through an X-ray and a complete physical exam. In specific situations, your specialist may wish to get a CT (computed tomography) scan as well.

How is a broken shoulder treated?

The best treatment for a proximal humerus fracture depends on what type of fracture it is, where it is located, how severe it is, your general health, and other factors.

  • In many cases, surgery is not needed. Instead, you can wear a sling or brace to keep the bones immobilized while they heal.
  • If the ends of the bones are not lined up, you may need to have surgery.

How long will it take my broken shoulder to heal?

It depends. Your healing process is as individual as you are. Much depends on the type and location of the fracture, your age, health, and general physical well-being. The average healing process for a broken bone is anywhere from six to eight weeks. It may be slightly longer if you have had surgery.

At Summit, our primary goal is to make sure your bones heal properly so you can get back to your everyday, active life as quickly as possible without any future symptoms or loss of function.

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise

From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.

Start your journey to stronger, healthier athletic condition. Find your sports medicine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a sports medicine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MNPlymouth, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.


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