Diagnosis and Examination
Symptoms of a scapula fracture typically include:
- Pain with arm and shoulder motion
- Pain with deep breaths due to the rib cage expanding and moving the fracture
- Swelling and bruising at the back of the shoulder
More severe fractures, and associated injuries, may present with shortness of breath and/or numbness/tingling within the shoulder or down the arm.
While scapula fractures themselves are not time-sensitive, if these more serious symptoms present, it is crucial to immediately head to the nearest hospital or emergency facility as they could indicate a more severe injury.
A physical exam is typically the first diagnostic tool used to evaluate a scapula fracture. During the physical exam, medical providers will:
- Evaluate for open fractures/wounds
- Provide a neurovascular exam to test the various nerves and vasculature around the scapula
- Examine shoulder positioning and range of motion (if there is any at all)
- Palpate the surrounding area
After the physical exam, imaging will be obtained. An X-ray of the shoulder and chest will provide valuable information in diagnosing the fracture. If needed, a CT or MRI may also be obtained to get a more in-depth look at the bone and surrounding soft tissue (Muscles, ligaments, organs).