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When someone says they broke their shoulder, they usually mean that they broke the ball at the top of the humerus bone, which is called a proximal humerus fracture. There are many other types of fractures that affect the other bones in the shoulder, such as the acromion, the glenoid, the scapular body, and the collarbone. The reason I will focus here on proximal humerus fractures is because they are so common and there seems to be a great deal of variety in the advice people get on how to get their fracture treated.
Most patients with a proximal humerus fracture in my practice are able to avoid surgery. If I think you have a very low chance of healing the fracture without surgery we will discuss either fixing the fracture or doing a reverse shoulder replacement, which is normally done for cuff tear arthropathy but can be done to reconstruct a shoulder that is so broken that it cannot be put back together. If I do think that you have a reasonable chance of healing the fracture, we will discuss how we will approach conservative management and when we will consider that to have failed. Ultimately, my goal is for you to tell me what you need to be able to do with your arm, and for me to give you reasonable treatment options that give you the best chance of getting that result. Click here to get an idea of how to prepare for your fracture fixation surgery and see the instructions you will be given on the day of surgery.