Doctors treat most shoulder fractures, whether they occur in the scapula, clavicle or humerus, with immobilization, ice and pain medication, though more severe breaks require surgery, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Trauma to the shoulder is common and includes fractures from incidents such as falls, direct blows or car accidents.
Because the chest and surrounding muscles protect it, fractures of the shoulder that occur in the scapula, or shoulder blade, are less common than fractures to the collarbone or humerus, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Doctors treat most patients with scapular fractures with immobilization, ice and pain medications, though between 10 and 20 percent of these fractures require surgery to remove bone fragments or fix them in place with plates and screws.
People with shoulder fractures at the clavicle experience swelling, a bump where the fracture occurred and limited range of motion in the affected shoulder, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Doctors do not perform surgery for clavicle fractures unless the bone has broken through the skin or is severely out of place.
Proximal humerus fractures occur at the top of the bone near the shoulder joint, and doctors do not perform surgery unless the bone fragments are shifted out of position, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. As with other types of shoulder surgery, doctors fix proximal humerus fractures with a combination of plates and screws, though they may recommend shoulder replacement for more severe fractures.