Can You Fracture Your Shoulder?

Yes, you can fracture any bone in your body. Sometimes multiple bones at the same time.

However, what is a fracture? It is a break in the continuity of the bone with a degree of injury to the soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, etc.) surrounding the bone.

All bones have their special classifications attributed to them to help make their diagnosis and treatment easier.

The proximal humerus (upper arm bone) that forms one-half of the shoulder joint follows Neer’s shoulder classification:

Neer’s Classification is based on the anatomic relationship of four segments shown in the figure below. The fracture is said to be displaced if the bone segment has moved more than 1 cm or greater than 45 degrees from its normal position.

Diagram of shoulder fractures showing 4 types of humerus fracture
Shoulder fractures – Proximal Humerus fractures – A: 2-part surgical neck fracture, B: 2-part greater tuberosity fracture, C: 3-part fracture, D: 4-part fracture Image taken from: Ebnezar, J., Ebnezar, J., & John, R. (2017). Textbook of orthopedics: Includes clinical examination methods in orthopedics. The four-segment classification system defines proximal humerus fractures by the number of displaced segments or parts.

One-Part Fractures:

a fracture with no fragments displaced

Two-Part Fractures:

where one fracture fragment is displaced away from the bone

Three-Part Fractures:

usually, one tuberosity is displaced, and the neck fracture is displaced. The remaining tuberosity is attached, which produces a rotational deformity.

Four-Part Fractures:

all 4 segments are out of place and displaced. This is a severe injury and carries a high risk of avascular necrosis (death of the bone cells due to lack of blood supply).


Read more about Fractured Shoulders:

1. Can you fracture your shoulder?

2. How do you treat a fractured shoulder?

3. How to tell if you have fractured your shoulder?

4. Can you fracture your shoulder blade?

5. Can a fractured shoulder heal on its own?

6. How long does it take to heal a fractured shoulder?

7. How long before you can drive after a fractured shoulder?