6 Ways To Tell If You Are Suffering From a Fractured Shoulder

A fractured shoulder is a serious injury, but despite the pain, you may not know that you have a fracture. These six indicators suggest a possible shoulder fracture that requires immediate medical attention.

Illustration of woman in severe pain for fractured shoulder blog



You suffered a fall, a blow, or a car accident and your shoulder hurts. It really hurts. How do you know how serious your injury actually is? You may wonder if it’s damage to the soft tissue or if you have a fracture that needs immediate care.

The following symptoms can help you determine if you have a fracture in one of the three bones of the shoulder: the scapula (shoulder blade), clavicle (collar bone), or humerus (arm bone). If you have pain, weakness, and dysfunction — even if you don’t think you have a broken bone — contact us at Austin Shoulder Institute for an evaluation.

1. You suffered injury

It’s not just any injury that causes a broken shoulder. But falling from a height, as when cycling or when rock climbing, that causes shoulder discomfort or dysfunction may indicate a broken shoulder. Contact sports like football and rugby include tackles and collisions that can lead to a fractured shoulder. Car accidents, especially at a high speed, also commonly cause serious shoulder injuries.

2. Inability to move the shoulder

If your shoulder feels weak or if any movement up and down, to and from your torso, or rotating around the joint hurts or seems impossible, you may very well have a fracture. A grinding sensation when you do move the shoulder is further confirmation of a fracture.

3. Swelling and bruising

A severely swollen shoulder may indicate a proximal humerus fracture. This fracture describes a break when the ball of your ball-and-socket joint is broken at the top of the arm bone. If the swelling is more near the middle of the collarbone, you may have a clavicular fracture. Swelling at the back of the shoulder indicates a potential fracture of the scapula.

4. Deformity

If your shoulder looks “off” or just not right, you may have a fracture in one of the three bones. Deformity can sometimes indicate a dislocation too. If you have a bump under your skin around the joint, you may have a fracture and the ends of the broken bones are protruding just under the skin.

5. Pain

This should go without saying, but if you have pain in your shoulder that just doesn’t feel right, you see us at Austin Shoulder Institute so we can examine your shoulder. You may have a fracture that didn’t displace the bones, meaning they’re cracked but not moved out of their normal position. Only an X-ray or MRI can confirm your injury

6. Weakness and tingling in the extremities

Your extremities, meaning your hands and arms, may feel weak and experience some tingling, especially if your break affects nearby nerves. You might experience these symptoms while still or when trying to move your shoulder.

The most common shoulder breaks involve the clavicle. Older adults are more likely to break the humerus at the joint due to falls or osteoporosis. Scapular breaks are quite rare, comprising less than 1% of all broken bones reported.


If you think you have a fractured shoulder, the specialists at Austin Shoulder Institute can help. In some cases, you may need surgery to repair a fracture, but immobilization of the joint that allows the bones to heal is often enough. Contact our office as soon as possible to get a diagnosis and proper treatment.


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How Do Shoulder Fractures Typically Occur?
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in your body. It includes the upper arm bone (humerus), the scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collar bone.) A fracture of the shoulder refers to a broken bone in any of these three areas.