Fracture of the Greater Tuberosity

Fracture of the greater tuberosity is a shoulder injury that occurs when the bony bump on the outside of the humerus (upper arm) breaks. This type of fracture interferes with the rotator cuff and causes instability when moving the arm.


Fractures of the greater tuberosity are usually caused by a direct impact to the shoulder, such as a car accident or falling on an outstretched arm. The risk for this type of injury is also greater in those with osteoporosis or if the shoulder is dislocated.


Pain and swelling in the shoulder are the most common symptoms of fractures of the greater tuberosity. Fractures may also impact the ability to move or lift the arm.


Physicians will review symptoms and conduct a physical exam to determine if a fracture of the greater tuberosity has occurred. Imaging tests such as x-rays may also be used to identify the location and extent of the injury.


Treatment depends on the severity of the fracture. In most cases, bones that have not moved out of position will be put in a sling and treated with anti-inflammatory medications. Once the shoulder heals, physical therapy strengthens the arm and increases the range of motion. However, surgery may be required if the bones are out of position and will not heal correctly with a sling.

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