Fracture of the Collarbone (Clavicle)

A clavicle fracture, or broken collarbone, develops when the bone between the shoulder blade and sternum tears or shatters. A clavicle fracture commonly occurs in children and athletes and affects the shoulder and arm movement.

What You Need To Know About Clavicle Fractures

What is a Clavicle Fracture?

The clavicle bone is an s-shaped bone that attaches the sternum to the shoulder, aiding the arms and shoulders in their movements. When injured, the clavicle may reduce the range of motion for the arms and shoulders.

Clavicle fractures typically result when excessive force is placed on the shoulder either directly or when a person falls with outstretched arms. This pressure over-stresses the adjoining bone, the clavicle, or collarbone. This very common injury may result in a clean tear through the bone or a shattering and displacement of the bone (comminuted and displaced fracture).

Treatment for clavicle fractures rarely requires surgery. Patients who are experiencing a broken collarbone benefit from rest and physical therapy.

Finding the best clavicle fracture treatment starts with a visit to Resurgens Orthopaedics. Schedule an appointment with our shoulder experts today.

What Causes a Fractured Collarbone?

The clavicle bone directly influences the movement of the shoulder and arms. The vital and sturdy bone can break as a result of:

  • Home or automobile accidents where exorbitant force affects the collarbone directly or the adjoining shoulder and arms
  • Athletic incidents
  • Extreme or repeated pressure on the shoulder
  • Falling with arms extended
  • (For babies) passing through the birth canal

Broken Collarbone Symptoms

Pain and tenderness in the shoulder and difficulty moving the arm are typically the first signs of a broken collarbone.

Other broken collarbone symptoms may include:

  • A grinding sound or feeling when the bone breaks or with arm and shoulder movements
  • Swelling or bruising in the area of the break
  • A slouched, unsupported shoulder
  • Inability to move the arm

Contacting a Resurgens Orthopaedics physician at the initial occurrence of these symptoms may protect patients from experiencing further injury to the collarbone and adjoining cartilage.

How is a Broken Collarbone Diagnosed?

At Resurgens Orthopaedics, one of our orthopaedic specialists will help to diagnose your injury by:

  • Asking questions about your medical history, the injury, your symptoms, and when they occurred
  • Examining the injury, your symptoms, and your range of motion
  • Using x-rays and other diagnostic imaging to verify the break, the location of the break, and the proper process for healing. Imaging also gives your physician the ability to identify other fractures or tears and develop an ideal treatment process.

Clavicle Fracture Treatment

Usually a collarbone injury does not require surgery. However, surgery may be necessary in extreme cases where the collarbone shifts out of alignment. After your physician diagnoses your clavicle fracture, they will customize a treatment that promotes your broken collarbone recovery.

Non-Surgical Clavicle Fracture Treatment

If the collarbone remains in position after a break, your broken collarbone recovery may only require a few simple healing steps:

  • Rest and immobilization through the use of a sling
  • Medications to decrease swelling and pain
  • Physical therapy to restore range of motion and strength to the muscles affected by the injury

Surgical Clavicle Fracture Treatment

Clavicle fracture surgery may be necessary for patients with more severe collarbone injuries resulting in blood vessel damage or bone displacement.

The surgery for collarbone displacement typically involves restoring the bone pieces to proper placement and fixation through pins, screws, plates, or rods. Follow-up surgeries may take place if the pins, screws, plates, or rods cause any discomfort or infection during your broken collarbone recovery.

While a fractured collarbone and a broken clavicle can cause significant pain, our physicians help restore bones and preserve their range of motion. Schedule an appointment at one of our Metro Atlanta locations now!

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