The shoulder blade is a triangular-shaped bone that connects your upper arm bone to your collarbone and chest wall. You have two shoulder blades, one located on either side of your upper back. An intricate web of muscles, which work to give the shoulder strength and allow it to move smoothly, protects it.
The scapula, or shoulder blade, is a bony structure found on the upper back that connects the upper arm to the chest wall (thorax). It also forms the socket part of the shoulder joint, connecting the upper arm (humerus) to the socket (glenoid). The acromion and coracoid processes are bony bumps found on the upper part of the scapula, and they function to connect the scapula to the collarbone. Thick layers of muscles, tendons, and ligaments surround the scapula, and are responsible for the smooth movement of the shoulder joint.
Shoulder blade fractures are not as common as some other joint injuries. According to the American Association of the Orthopaedic Surgeons, they make up less than 1 percent of all broken bones in the United States each year. Because it’s so hard to break a shoulder blade, fractures are usually caused by major traumas, such as car or motorcycle crashes, sports accidents, or extreme falls.
Scapular fractures are caused by direct trauma involving a large amount of force or violence. Associated injuries to the chest wall, lungs, and shoulder occur in a majority of people with broken shoulder blades. Consequently, if a scapula is fractured, other areas of the body should be diligently examined for additional problems. Common causes of broken shoulder blades include the following:
· Motor vehicle accidents
· Long trips or falls
· Direct trauma to the shoulder
· Falls onto an outstretched arm
Fractures to the different parts of the shoulder blade may cause slightly different symptoms. But generally, symptoms include:
· Severe pain when you try to move your arm
· Inability to lift your arm over your head
· Swelling, bruising, and skin abrasion at the back of your shoulder blade
Other injuries, especially those caused by trauma, may present the same symptoms as a fractured shoulder blade. All fractures are serious, so it’s important to see a doctor right away if you experience any of the above symptoms. Those whose shoulder blade fractures are treated successfully can expect to return to an active, healthy life within six months to a year.
To learn more about how to recover from a scapula fracture, call Watauga Orthopaedics today at (423) 282-9011 to request an appointment. You can also schedule an appointment online with one of our board-certified orthopedic surgeons.