Broken Collarbone (Fractured Clavicle)
What is a broken collarbone?
A broken collarbone is a break in the clavicle, the bone in your upper chest that connects your breastbone (sternum) to part of your shoulder blade (scapula). A broken collarbone is also known as a fractured clavicle.
How does it occur?
A broken collarbone can occur in several ways. You may fall on your outstretched arm and hand, you may fall on your shoulder, or you may be hit directly in the collarbone.
What are the symptoms?
You have pain and swelling at the area of the break. It is difficult to move your arm or shoulder. You may have heard a crack at the time of the injury.
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will examine your collarbone and find tenderness and swelling. An X-ray will show a fracture.
How is it treated?
To ease your discomfort, your collarbone may be immobilized in a “figure of 8″ splint or brace that holds your shoulders back (as if you were standing at attention). Your arm may be placed in a sling. Very rarely a broken collarbone needs to be surgically repaired.
Your provider will prescribe a pain medicine. Broken collarbones are very painful in the first few days. You should place an ice pack over the fracture for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for the first few days.
How long will the effects last?
Most broken collarbones are healed within 6 to 8 weeks. Your healthcare provider may take another X-ray to be sure that the bone has healed. You must be able to move your clavicle, shoulder, and arm without pain before you can return to your activities or sports. You can begin rehabilitation exercises after your broken collarbone has healed and after you have seen your provider.
How can I prevent a broken clavicle?
Clavicle fractures are usually the result of accidents that cannot be prevented.
Written by Pierre Rouzier, MD” and “Permission to copy for patient education” and “www.sportsmedpress.com