Prognosis for Recovery
Historically, scapula fractures have been treated with a sling for rest, followed by physical therapy once the fracture heals. This conservative method works well for stable fractures with minimal displacement. Unfortunately, research has shown that patients with more severe fractures have been left with less than favorable outcomes as a result of that this conservative treatment model.
Malunion is a medical term used to describe a fracture that heals in an abnormal fashion. Malunion following a severe scapula fracture is common, given that nonoperative treatment for scapula fractures is the standard of care. Chronic pain, weakness, and shoulder deformity are recognized and previously reported complications in patients with a scapula malunion.
Nerve injury occurs in approximately 10% of scapula fractures. Nerves that supply the rotator cuff muscles can become damaged, which results in shoulder weakness. Often times, an attempt to locate and fix the identified nerve injury will be performed during surgical repair of a scapula fracture.
Fractures of the shoulder girdle take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to completely rehabilitate the bones, joints, and supporting musculature. It is important to undergo some type of physical rehabilitation to ensure optimal healing.