Broken shoulder blade

The shoulder blade, also known as the scapula is a bony structure located at the upper back of your body. The shoulder blade connects the chest wall or the thorax to the upper arm.

Causes of broken shoulder blade

Shoulder blade fractures are often caused due to direct trauma with a massive force. 80% of scapula injury cases also involve injuries to the lungs, chest wall and shoulder.

First Aid - Triangle Bandage

Triangle bandages, found in most first aid kits, are effective tools for helping manage and immobilize broken bones.

Some of the common causes of broken shoulder blade are:

  • Falls which give a direct blow to the shoulder
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Direct trauma from a hammer or baseball bat
  • Falls involving landing on an extended arm


Some of the common signs and symptoms of broken shoulder blade include:

  • Pain–movement increase pain
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Inability to lift the arm
  • Shoulder may seem to be deformed or flattened
  • Pain while breathing or movement of chest wall

When to seek medical help

See you doctor if any of the following conditions occur prior to the injury or blow:

  • Pain while moving the shoulder
  • Swelling of the affected area of the shoulder
  • Shoulder pain does not alleviate within 3-5 days

Severe injuries affecting the shoulder, back, chest wall or neck should be reported to the emergency department immediately. Quick treatment will lead to speedy recovery.


If any of the problems occur, call 911 promptly:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Abdominal pain
  • Decreased sensation
  • Inability to move the arm or shoulder
  • Weakness, tingling sensation or numbness on the affected arm
  1. Seek immediate medical attention. Take the casualty to the nearest health care department immediately
  2. Control the bleeding. Apply direct pressure on the wound with a sterile bandage or clean cloth for about 15 minutes. Once the blood soaks through the cloth, place another clean one on top of the first
  3. Prepare a sling. While supporting the affected arm, use a triangular bandage or large cloth (the size of a pillow case) folded into a triangular shape under the injured arm and over the unaffected shoulder. Tie a knot beside the neck.
  4. Treat the symptoms of the condition such as pain or swelling. For swelling and pain, apply an ice pack on the affected region. For pain, over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen can be taken. Avoid giving aspirin to young children and teenagers under 18 years of age.

X-rays will be taken to check the condition of your shoulder blade. The doctor may place the affected arm in a sling.

Most of the time, surgery is not required.

Learn More

To learn more about recognizing and helping individuals with broken shoulder blades or any other broken bones or fractures enrol in the following courses

Standard First Aid – click here to register.

Emergency First Aid – click here to register.

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