6 Steps to a Successful Shoulder Fracture Surgery

  • female orthopedic surgeon discussing digital image of shoulder to senior female patient
    Preparation Is Key to Success
    Many shoulder fractures can heal without surgery, but if the bone is displaced or the break is severe, you may need surgical treatment. Shoulder fracture surgery will align and stabilize the broken bone or bones in your shoulder using pins, plates or screws. The thought of undergoing shoulder fracture surgery might be overwhelming. Here are some things you can do to help make your surgery a success.

  • Surgeon talking to team of doctors
    1. Pick the Right Doctor
    One of the most important things you can do for successful shoulder fracture surgery is to choose a doctor with the right expertise and experience. The more experience the doctor has performing shoulder fracture surgery, the better prepared he or she is to anticipate and prevent complications. Look for an orthopedic surgeon who is board certified and specializes in shoulder fractures. You can search Healthgrades.com for orthopedic surgeons in your area.

  • Middle-aged woman on laptop
    2. Make Sure Your Hospital Has a Good Success Record
    Where you have your surgery is just as important as who performs your surgery. Your risk of complications and even death can be higher at one hospital compared to another in the same city. Healthgrades.com presents this information in an easy-to-understand ratings format. Healthgrades also recognizes hospitals for excellence in orthopedic surgery. The top 10% of hospitals for performance in orthopedic surgery receive the Orthopedic Surgery Excellence Award™.

  • Patient in arm sling
    3. Get Specific With Your Doctor
    Bring a list of questions to your doctor’s appointment. Ask about the types of surgery available, possible complications, recovery time, and how to manage pain after the procedure. Talk to your doctor about all your activities and ask how and when you can return to them safely. Having realistic expectations will help you stick with your treatment plan.

  • Medicine Pill Box Daily Planner
    4. Prepare for the Procedure
    Here are things you’ll need to do before surgery. 1) Provide your detailed medical history and a list of your medications. 2) Get all preoperative testing that your doctor orders. 3) Take or stop medications exactly as directed.

  • Older woman in physical therapy
    5. Plan for Your Recovery
    Recovery time varies depending on the type of shoulder fracture and surgery, your general health, your age, and other factors. Following instructions for wearing your sling or splint is an essential part of recovery. You will likely have physical therapy to help you regain shoulder strength and function, and return to activities safely. Full recovery can take several months.

  • young man with arm cast and sling on couch watching TV
    6. Make Appropriate Arrangements
    You won’t be able to drive yourself home after shoulder fracture surgery, so arrange for a ride to and from the hospital. You will wear a sling or splint and have some pain after surgery. Pain will gradually decrease over a week or two. Ask your doctor what kind of restrictions you’ll have; what kind of assistance you will need at home; and when you can return to work and other activities. Arrange for child care, driving assistance, and time off work as needed.

6 Steps to a Successful Shoulder Fracture Surgery
Shoulder Surgery

About The Author

  1. Risk factors for proximal humerus fracture. American Journal of Epidemiology. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/160/4/360.full.
  2. Scapula (shoulder blade) fracture. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00359.
  3. Shoulder problems. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Shoulder_Problems/.
  4. Shoulder surgery. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00066.
  5. Shoulder trauma (fractures and dislocations). American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00394.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 6
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.