Why You Shouldn't Ignore Signs of a Fracture

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Why You Shouldn't Ignore Signs of a Fracture

If you suspect a fracture, visiting a medical provider is essential. Here is why you should never ignore the signs of a fracture.

Your body has amazing recuperative abilities. Even broken bones will heal in a process called knitting without medical attention. However, beyond hairline fractures, there’s no assurance that spontaneous healing restores proper body mechanics. 

Recognizing when a shoulder injury involves a fracture can help to assure complete recovery. An examination with a shoulder fracture specialist soon after an injury is the best way to discover an optimal treatment. 

In Kansas City, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas, H. Scott Ellsworth, MD offers treatment for fractures. Here’s why we suggest prompt attention to your injury. 

Injuries to the shoulder

The shoulder is the most complex joint in your body, permitting a remarkable range of motion for your arms. Bone, muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissue work together to provide this capability. 

Shoulder fractures typically involve three bones, the humerus, clavicle (collar bone), or scapula (shoulder blade). The clavicle is the shoulder bone most often broken, while the scapula is involved the least. Fractures of the humerus fall between these two. 

Types of fracture

About 80% of shoulder injuries involving fractures are non-displaced. That means the broken bones remain at or close to their correct position. Treatment requires immobilizing the arm and shoulder while the bones heal. In healthy people, bones take about six weeks to heal.  

Displaced fractures are more complex. They’re more likely to require surgical repair, and there is also an increased chance of muscle and soft tissue injury. Recovery times may be longer, depending on the conditions of the injury and treatment. 

Note that both displaced and non-displaced fractures can include damage to the rotator cuff. That may complicate healing and delay recovery. 

Symptoms of shoulder fracture

A shoulder injury that involves a fracture almost always features significant pain. Other shoulder fracture symptoms include:

  • Swelling and bruising
  • Range of motion is restricted 
  • Deformity in the shoulder, such as a bump or change of profile
  • Tingling in the arm or hand
  • Weakness
  • Localized swelling in the middle of the collar bone

The most common type of shoulder fracture is a broken collar bone due to a fall. Damage to the ball end of the humerus occurs due to collisions, such as from a car accident or from playing a contact sport. Shoulder blade fractures are the least common due to the protection it receives from back muscles. Direct impact is usually the cause of damage to the scapula. 

Why you shouldn’t ignore signs of a fracture

Ignoring a shoulder fracture greatly increases the chances of improper healing, leading to a loss of motion, reduced strength or stiffness in the affected arm. Your risk of post-traumatic arthritis later in life increases after a fracture, and the effects may be more dramatic without prompt care at the time of the injury. 

While Dr. Ellsworth is a specialist in shoulder and elbow injuries, no potential fracture should be ignored. The complications that arise from both displaced and non-displaced injuries can develop with any bone break.

If you suspect a fracture, contact our offices by phone or online to get started on full recovery today.