Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Fracture of the Shoulder Blade (Scapula)

A scapula fracture is a break or crack in the scapula (shoulder blade), which is a flat, triangular bone providing attachment to the muscles of the back, neck, chest, and arm.

Common Symptoms

  • Severe pain in the shoulder/upper back area
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Impaired mobility/inability to lift the arm
  • Numbness, tingling or coldness in the hand and forearm
  • Popping sound or grinding sensation during movement

Cause & Anatomy

Scapula fractures require a large amount of force and are usually caused by high-energy trauma such as:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls from height onto the back
  • Contact sports like football

The scapula has several key parts:

  • Body: The large, flat triangular area
  • Neck: Connects the glenoid (socket) to the body
  • Acromion: Bony projection forming the acromioclavicular joint
  • Coracoid: Curved projection near the shoulder socket
  • Glenoid: The shoulder socket itself


  • Physical examination by an orthopedic surgeon
  • X-rays
  • CT scan to assess displacement and angulation
  • MRI may be ordered


Scapula fractures are difficult to prevent due to the high-force trauma required, but using proper safety gear/equipment and avoiding high-risk activities can reduce the chances.


Most scapula fractures are treated non-operatively with:

  • Immobilization using a sling for 3-6 weeks
  • Pain medication
  • Early physical therapy for range of motion exercises


Surgery may be needed for displaced fractures, fractures involving the neck/glenoid, or severe angulation, to realign the bones and restore shoulder function. This can be done via open or arthroscopic techniques.

Rehabilitation After Surgery

Progressive range of motion and strengthening exercises are crucial to regain full shoulder mobility and function after surgical repair of a scapula fracture.


How long does it take a scapula fracture to heal?
Most take 3-6 months for full healing and recovery of function.

Can a scapula fracture cause nerve damage?
Yes, nerve injuries can occur and cause numbness/weakness in the arm.

Is surgery always needed for a scapula fracture?
No, most can be treated non-operatively unless significantly displaced or involving the neck/glenoid area.

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