A “broken shoulder,” typically refers to a broken bone in the upper portion of the arm (humerus). These fractures tend to heal quickly and without surgery. A specialized sling is worn to keep the arm in a steady position. Rarely, surgery may be needed to repair a humeral fracture.
AC joint injuries
The AC joint has two key groups of ligaments that help support it. The AC ligament runs side-to-side and a pair of Coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments help stabilize the joint from top to bottom. AC joint injuries are usually caused by direct trauma to the shoulder.
Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Your child’s doctor will usually take an X-ray to see if the collarbone is displaced. Most of the time AC joint injuries do not require surgery, except in severe cases.
Proximal humeral physeal fractures
Injuries to the growth plate of the humerus (upper arm bone) can happen from overuse or after a traumatic event. But since children’s bones grow quickly, children can usually fully recover without surgery. Breaks can be located through, above, below or both above and below the growth plate. If your child has a severe fracture where the bones are now far apart, your doctor may recommend surgery using pins, plates and screws, or a rod that goes into the arm bone to stabilize the break until it heals.
Humeral shaft fractures
Breaks in the middle of the upper arm bone are often due to trauma, such as car accidents or falls. And with this type of fracture, there is also a risk of injury to one of the nerves in the arm. Your doctor will perform a thorough physical exam during the initial evaluation and throughout the course of your child’s treatment to determine whether this is present. Often these breaks don’t need surgery and can be treated with immobilization. Initially, the injured arm is placed into a splint and a sling. Typically, one to two weeks later, once the initial swelling has gone down, your child can be transitioned into a Sarmiento brace, which secures the arm and compresses the soft tissues.