Also known as a clavicle fracture, a collarbone fracture is fairly common and can happen to people at any age.
The collarbone (clavicle) lies between the shoulder blade (scapula) and the ribcage (sternum) which connects the arm to the body.
Most collarbone fractures occur from a hard hit to the shoulder. A fall on an outstretched arm may also cause a fracture to the clavicle. Sometimes during birth, a baby’s collarbone can fracture as a result of passing through the birth canal.
Symptoms of a collarbone fracture
A clavicle fracture is extremely painful. Other symptoms include:
- A sagging shoulder
- Difficulty lifting the arm, accompanied by a grinding sensation
- A bump or deformity over the break
- Bruising, swelling or tenderness
Treatment for a collarbone fracture
A sling or a figure eight wrap is recommended to support the arm in a healing position and relieve pain. Your physician may suggest pain medication such as acetaminophen.
Depending of the severity of the fracture, pins, plates and screws can be surgically implanted to hold the bone in place. Some pain is common after surgery as it is part of the healing process. Medication for short term pain relief is usually prescribed.
Physical therapy will usually start with gentle exercise that will gradually incorporate strengthening. It will be a slow process, but in order to return to the activities you enjoy it is very important to follow a physical therapy plan.
For more information please go to orthoinfo.aaos.org