Scapular Fracture

You have a fracture (break in bone) of your scapula. This is your shoulder blade. It is the large flat bone behind your shoulder. This is also the bone that makes up the ball and socket joint of your shoulder. Most of the time surgery is not required for injuries to this bone unless the socket of the shoulder joint is involved.

DIAGNOSIS

Because of the severity of force usually required to break this bone, x-rays are often taken of other bones likely to be injured at the same time. X-rays of the hip, knee, and pelvis may be taken. Specialized x-rays (arteriograms) may be needed if there are injuries to large blood vessels associated with this injury.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Simple fractures of the scapula can be treated with a sling and swathe type of immobilization. This means the involved area is held in place by putting the arm in a sling. A wrap is made around the upper arm with the sling holding the arm next to the chest. This may be removed for bathing as instructed by your caregiver.

  • Apply ice to the injury for 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 times per day. Put the ice in a plastic bag. Place a towel between the bag of ice and your skin, splint, or immobilization device.

  • Do not resume use until instructed by your caregiver. Usually full rehabilitation (exercises to improve the injury site) will begin sometime after the sling and swathe are removed. Then begin use gradually as directed. Do not increase use to the point of pain. If pain develops, decrease use and continue the above measures. Slowly increase activities that do not cause discomfort until you gradually achieve normal use without pain.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your pain and swelling increase and is uncontrolled with medications.

  • You develop new, unexplained symptoms or an increase of the symptoms which brought you to your caregiver.

  • You develop shortness or breath or cough up blood.

  • You are unable to move your arm or fingers. You develop warmth and swelling in your affected arm.

  • You develop an unexplained temperature.