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Shoulder Fractures

Publish Date
November 11, 2021

The risk of fracturing the shoulder increases with age for various reasons:

 

∙ increase in balance issues with age

∙ more common to have osteoporosis

∙ lack of physical activity leading to weaker muscles in the winter

∙ increased number of people over the age of 65 with osteoporosis

 

How do the above lead to more fractures?  

 

The more inactive you are, the weaker your muscles become because of disuse. When your muscles are weak, your balance becomes affected, which increases your risk of falling. Then there is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis involves a decrease in new bone formation while the body is continuing to break down bone, resulting in more brittle bones and a more increased risk of fracture when a fall occurs.  

 

How do you know that you may have a shoulder fracture?

 

∙ swelling in the shoulder

∙ inability to move your arm

∙ audible grinding in the shoulder

∙ if “something doesn’t feel right” or deformity in the shoulder

∙ weakness and heaviness in the arm

 

What do you do? What can you expect post-fracture?

 

If you answered yes to most of the above, you should get an x-ray right away. The doctor will be able to tell you if the shoulder will be non-surgical vs. surgical. If the shoulder does not require surgery, you will be placed in a sling for four to six weeks until the fracture heals mostly. At that point, your doctor has to clear you for physical therapy to begin.

 

When you have your evaluation with the physical therapist, the physical therapist will devise a safe exercise program with the initial goal of returning to the full range of motion. Once mobility has returned and the fracture heals completely, strengthening followed by functional exercises can begin. The goal is to get you back to normal daily activities and any other recreational activities that you have been unable to do without pain.

 

By Dr. Billy Beaudreau, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, FAAOMPT

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