How to Diagnose a Shoulder Fracture
A shoulder fracture is usually able to be diagnosed with a thorough history, physical exam, and a series of X-rays. Dr. Boykin may also order a CT scan or a MRI in cases of complex injuries or those that are difficult to see on an X-ray.
Many shoulder fractures can be treated without surgery, and will yield good outcomes for patients. In these types of shoulder fractures, Dr. Boykin will most likely use a stabilization sling to prevent movement of the shoulder while the fracture heals. Dr. Boykin will also prescribe appropriate medications, as well as a protocol that includes ice, rest, and eventually physical therapy. In general, fractures typically heal by the 3 month mark and patients are allowed to gradually resume their activities.
Surgical Treatment for a Shoulder Fracture
Depending on the severity of the fracture, location, and associated injuries, a shoulder fracture may need to be repaired through surgery. These include all cases of “compound” (or open where the bone has pierced the skin) fractures, fractures with significant separation of the bones, and complex fractures involving the joint surface of the shoulder.
Dr. Boykin may choose to perform surgery with the use of hardware such as pins, plates, or rods in order to hold the bone in place until it fully heals. He may perform open reduction and internal fixation that requires opening up the skin at the fracture, realigning the bones, and then plating or pinning the fracture together. In other cases he may be able to fix the fracture percutaneously (through the skin without opening it) or use arthroscopic techniques (with small incisions, a camera, and specialized instruments) to perform the fixation. In some cases the hardware may be left in forever while in other situations the hardware may be removed once the bone is healed. Dr. Boykin will recommend the appropriate surgery for the specific injury presented.
For additional resources regarding shoulder fractures and shoulder surgery, please contact Dr. Robert Boykin, Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon serving Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding North Carolina communities.