A greater tuberosity fracture affects the bony bump located at the top of the humerus and attached to two rotator cuff muscles. This injury typically occurs due to a fall where an individual lands directly on their shoulder or hits the ground with their arm outstretched. If you experience this type of problem, shoulder surgery may be necessary. Use the following guide to learn more about your condition and the treatment options.

A Guide to Greater Tuberosity Fractures

What’s the difference between displaced and undisplaced fractures?

Greater tuberosity fractures are either displaced or undisplaced. In rare cases of the former, the bump is out of its natural position. The greater tuberosity separates from the rotator cuff it was attached to, which causes it to be pulled away from the correct placement by the remaining tendons.

Undisplaced injuries are much more common. They are sometimes referred to as hidden fractures since they do not show up on X-rays, making them difficult to detect and diagnose. Most undisplaced greater tuberosity issues are found weeks after the injury because the shoulder failed to heal. Your orthopedic surgeon can order an MRI or ultrasound to produce clearer images of the fracture.

What are my treatment options?

shoulder surgery

Following a diagnosis, patients get fitted with a sling to minimize shoulder movement and help prevent pain. They are then referred to an orthopedic surgeon. If the fracture has not strayed far from its original location, it gets treated with rest and physical therapy. Shoulder surgery is recommended if the bony bump has moved more than 5 mm.

How can I improve my chances of a speedy recovery?

After shoulder surgery, follow the provider’s care instructions closely. These can include recommendations for cleaning the area, controlling pain and swelling, and what movements to avoid. They will also teach you some exercises to do at home to help you regain your range of motion. When beginning physical therapy, attend all appointments and pay attention to your body. Contact an orthopedic surgeon if you experience severe pain.

How long does recovery generally take?

The speed of your recovery will mostly depend on the severity of the fracture. For the most part, you can expect to regain most of your shoulder function and movement within 12 weeks. If you are an office worker, you can return to work in two to four weeks, as long as you continue wearing the sling.


If you’ve been diagnosed with a greater tuberosity fracture, visit Peter A. Matsuura, MD, in Hilo, HI, for quality orthopedic care. This practice offers surgical and nonsurgical solutions and has a knowledgeable and friendly team that will guide you through various options to help you make the right choice. They treat a wide range of conditions and injuries, including those affecting the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and foot. If you have any questions about shoulder surgery or treatment, call (808) 969-3331. Visit their website for more information about their services.