The shoulder blade (scapula) is a triangle-shaped bone that is secured by a complex system of neighboring muscles. Scapula fractures account for less than 1% of all broken bones and many of them can be treated without surgery.
The scapula fracture can be caused by injuries such as those experienced in a motorcycle or motor vehicle collision or falling from a specific height can cause a scapula fracture.
Other major injuries often accompany scapular fractures, such as fractures in the shoulder, collarbone, and ribs, or damage to the head, lungs, or spinal cord.
There can be one or more parts of the scapula that can be fractured.
- Scapular body (50% to 60% of patients)
- Scapular neck (25% of patients)
Symptoms of Scapula Fracture
The most common symptoms of a scapula fracture include:
- Extreme pain when the patient moves the arm
- Swelling near the back of the shoulder
- Scrapes around the affected area.
To give an appropriate treatment, the doctor will evaluate the position and posture of the patient’s shoulder. Because other injuries are often present with scapula fractures, the doctor will look for additional injuries.
The patient will also treat any soft-tissue damage (abrasions, open wounds, and muscular trauma). A detailed physical examination may not be possible if the patient is having other severe injuries.
Treatment of Scapula Fracture
Non-surgical treatment with a normal sling works for most fractures of the scapula. The sling holds the patient’s shoulder in place while the bone heals. The doctor may want the patient to start moving his shoulder within the first week after the injury to minimize the risk of the shoulder and elbow stiffness. The sling is removed as the pain improves. The passive stretching exercises should be continued until complete shoulder motion returns. This may take 6 months to 1 year.
Certain types of scapular fractures may need surgery:
- Fractures of the glenoid articular surface in which bone has moved out of place (displaced)
- Fractures of the neck of the scapula with a lot of angulation
- Fractures of the acromion process that cause the arm bone to hit against it (impingement syndrome)
At the time of scapula fracture operation, the bone fragments are first repositioned (reduced) in their normal alignment and then held together by attaching metal plates with special screws to the outer surface of the bone.
The pain felt after an injury or surgery is referred to as the natural part of the healing process. The doctor and nurses will work to reduce the patient’s pain, which can help him recover faster.
Medications are often prescribed for short-term pain relief after surgery or an injury. Various types of medicines are available to help manage pain, including opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and local anesthetics. The doctor may use a combination of these medications to improve pain relief, as well as minimize the need for opioids.
Be aware of the fact that even though opioids help in relieving pain after surgery or an injury they are narcotic and can be addictive. The dependency of opioids and overdose has become a critical public health issue in the world. It is advised to use opioids only as directed by the doctor.
As early as the pain begins to improve, stop taking opioids. Talk to the doctor if the patient’s pain has not begun to improve within a few days of the treatment.
Which are the different tests that have to be performed before Treatment of Scapula Fracture?
Some of the different tests which have to be performed before treatment of Scapula Fracture are:
- Complete Blood Count
- CT Scan
- Electromyography (EMG)