What is a clavicle fracture?
The clavicle (also known as the “collarbone”) is part of the shoulder that connects the arm to the sternum. Clavicles can easily be found at the base of the neck, extending out to the shoulders on each side, and function to hold the shoulder upward and backward. Breaking your collarbone is also known as a clavicle fracture, and it commonly occurs from a direct blow, fall, sports collision, or work-related injury. The clavicle is the most commonly broken bone in the shoulder.
What are the symptoms of a clavicle fracture?
A clavicle fracture can be very painful and may make it hard to move your arm. Other signs and symptoms of a broken collarbone may include:
- Pain occurring immediately upon fracture
- Swelling, tenderness and bruising
- Inability to lift your arm without extreme pain
- Grinding sensation when trying to move the arm
- A deformity or "bump" over the break
- The affected shoulder sags downward or forward
How is a broken clavicle treated?
Non-surgical – If the broken collarbone is not displaced or fragmented, surgery may not be required. Conservative measures include immobilization with a sling, ice, and medications to minimize pain. Patients will return to clinic every few weeks for x-rays until fracture healing is confirmed. Physical therapy is started once the break is healed in order to restore full function and range of motion. Moving the shoulder before the fracture is healed can cause a delay in healing, and working the joint too early can lead to a nonunion of the fracture which will cause the need for surgical repair.
Surgical – If the fracture is displaced (not in correct anatomical position), surgery may be necessary. Dr. Potts performs clavicle fracture repair by realigning the broken pieces and holding them in place with plates and screws.