A broken shoulder usually involves the humerus. It is important to note that the humerus is the upper arm bone amidst the shoulder and elbow. The humerus can be damaged in various places.
Management of a broken shoulder
Once an individual with a broken shoulder is diagnosed using an X-ray, the affected arm is reinforced at the wrist with a “collar and cuff” sling. This enables the weight of the arm to pull the humerus downwards. This helps the broken bones heal in the right position.
Do not place anything under the elbow to support the weight of the arm. Remember that this will only drive the humerus upwards and move the bones in the wrong position.
The sling should be used for at least 6 weeks depending on the instructions given by the doctor. In some cases, surgery is required to stabilize the broken shoulder.
Recommended physiotherapy and exercises
The affected arm is placed under a “collar and cuff” sling for up to 6 weeks. The individual should move the fingers and wrist to prevent swelling and stiffness.
The doctor will advise when it is out of harm’s way to engage in exercises involving the range of motion, active-assisted, active as well as progressive strengthening.
Even though it is vital to move the shoulder to prevent rigidity, the main objective is to allow the broken shoulder to recuperate. Always bear in mind that a broken shoulder will continue to improve for up to 12 months.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on a broken shoulder is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this form of common injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.