Hello, I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Bone Fracture Lawyer. A scapular fracture is a fracture to the scapula, more commonly known as the shoulder blade. The scapula is strong and located in a protected place in our body, so it rarely breaks. When it does break, it’s an indication to me that the person was subjected to a considerable amount of blunt force trauma (sometimes resulting from car or motorcycle accidents). Addition to the scapula fracture a person may have suffered serious chest trauma as well.
The Role of the Scapula
The role of the scapula is to assist in the movements of the shoulder and the arm. The scapula is a sturdy structure that is largely protected by the body and the back. That is why it requires a significant amount of force to break it.
The Cause of the Fracture
One of the most common reasons for a scapula fracture is that people could be ejected from a car or fail to avoid motorcycle hazards and land on their back. On the other hand, people do not need to be ejected to sustain a scapula fracture. In a head-on collision, the steering wheel could impact the chest, placing a significant amount of force applied to the rib cage. This force is translated through the rib cage around to the back and the scapula can be broken. For this reason, people should always wear their seat belts.
The first step is typically pain relief and to immobilize the injury. After a few weeks, physical therapy will be started to help restore flexibility and motion to the injured site. Many scapula fractures are not displaced and therefore do not require surgery; however, some scapula fractures do require surgery. Rehabilitation after a traumatic injury can be beneficial.
The Complications of a Scapula Fracture
The most common complications involve infection or bleeding risks that can occur if the fracture is open or damages a blood vessel. Another common complication is called a winged scapula. When the scapula fractures, it could become displaced, leading to nerve damage. This could remove power to the muscles that control the movement of the scapula.
What Other Structures are at Risk?
When a scapula fracture is displaced, it could damage the long thoracic nerve. This nerve is responsible for powering the serratus anterior which helps control the scapula. Damage to this nerve disables this muscle and leads to a winged scapula, where the scapula sticks out from the back. Another structure at risk is the brachial plexus. Brachial plexus injuries are common because this nerve bundle sits under the upper arm and can be damaged in a scapula fracture.
The Differential Diagnosis
There are several items on the differential diagnosis including:
- Rib fracture
- Clavicular fracture
- AC joint sprain
- Shoulder bursitis
- Torn labrum
- Rotator Cuff Injuries
The Injury Prognosis
Most scapula fractures aren’t displaced and therefore heal without requiring surgery. If the bone fracture is not displaced, most people regain full function with physical therapy. If the fracture is displaced, surgery might be required and the prognosis could change. Every prognosis is handled as a case by case basis.
Reasons for Surgery
The most common reason for surgery is that people have a displaced fracture which requires surgery to align properly. This decision is handled as a case by case basis. Physicians will order x-rays to examine the alignment of the scapula and decide whether or not surgery is appropriate.
Sacramento Bone Fracture Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Bone Fracture Lawyer. If you, or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, contact my office at (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice. If you are calling from outside of the Sacramento area, feel free to use my toll-free line at (800) 404-5400.
I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. As some of the top trial lawyers in the United States, we have won multiple million-dollar settlements and/or verdicts for our past clients.
Please view my past verdicts and settlements here.
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