Emma has fractured her shoulder skiing

March 7, 2017

After 35yrs of injury-free skiing I had an accident yesterday and have fractured my shoulder (not displaced fracture at top of the ‘ball’ of humerus bone). I have been advised to keep my arm immobilised in a brace/sling for 4-6wks. However I am worried that, although I know the bone etc needs time to heal- and most movements are ‘pretty painful’, everything will seize up (shoulder rotation, elbow, wrist….).

How soon would you advise starting some form of physio? (I’m hoping your answer is ‘yesterday’!).

Many thanks for your help. Emma.

March 7, 2017

Hi Emma

Sounds as if you’re fractured your humeral head, hence keeping it in a sling.

However you can start (and should start) moving your elbow and wrist. Little and often seems to work well.

As long as you keep your shoulder still when you take it out of the sling do straighten and bend your elbow and turn up palm up and down. Try to avoid rotating your hand too far in front of your body, as that movement comes from your shoulder.

If it’s painful when moving your elbow or wrist around you can take some simple over the counter pills (if you can) because despite having a fracture you’ll also have a large amount of soft tissue bruising.

When you’re out of the sling do move your neck and back around and even some simple shoulder shrugs and rolls as long as you don’t get a dramatic increase in pain in your shoulder.

The biggest potential issue after a shoulder fracture is getting a traumatic adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) and you’re between a rock and a hard place at the mo.

You need joint immobilisation to allow the fracture to heal, you need to keep the joint mobile to prevent it from freezing….

I don’t think I’d be too worried over the next week or 10 days – allow the immobility to do it’s bit. Then as pain allows (and you being sensible) you could probably start some very gentle, controlled movement in between periods of wearing your sling.

Do take this advice with a big pinch of salt because if you’ve got a whooping fracture and massive amounts of bruising, then go easy – and if in doubt go see and ask!!

The Guru

Guru Responded

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