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Scapular Fracture


A scapular fracture is a break in your shoulder blade (scapula). Your collarbone, arm bones, lungs, or chest may also be affected.

Shoulder Anatomy


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
  • You cough up blood.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You cannot move your fingers.
  • Any part of your arm becomes blue, pale, cold, or numb.
  • Your pain is not relieved or gets worse, even after you take pain medicine.
  • Your arm feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Call your doctor or orthopedist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have more swelling than you did before your arm was put into a sling.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


  • Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
  • Apply ice to help decrease swelling and pain, and to prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your scapula. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • Ask about activity before you start to exercise. Start slowly and do more as you get stronger. Exercise will help make your bones and muscles stronger. Do not play contact sports, such as football and wrestling, while your scapula is still healing. Ask your healthcare provider or orthopedist when you can start playing contact sports.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Go to physical therapy, if directed. You may need physical therapy after your swelling and pain have improved. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength.

Sling care:

Keep your sling clean, and adjust it so that your arm is comfortable.

Follow up with your doctor or orthopedist within 2 to 3 days, or as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Scapular Fracture (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.