Broken Collarbone

The clavicle or the collarbone is the bone that connects your sternum or breastbone to your shoulder. Clavicle fractures, also called broken collarbones are a very common sports injury seen in people who are involved in contact sports such as football and sports involving speed and heights, such as cycling and horse riding.

Causes

A broken collarbone normally occurs after a fall onto the shoulder. The most common sports associated with clavicle fractures include football, basketball, cycling and horse riding.

Symptoms

A broken collarbone most often causes pain, swelling and bruising over the collarbone. Pain increases with shoulder movement. Your shoulder may be slumped downward and forward. You may also have a bump around the area of the break. You may hear a grinding sound when you try to raise your arm.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a broken collarbone, your doctor will take a brief history of the injury, and perform a physical examination of your shoulder. An X-ray of the clavicle is taken to identify the location of the fracture. Your doctor may also recommend a computerized tomography (CT) scan in some cases.

Conservative Treatment Options

Most broken collarbones heal without a surgery. An arm sling may support the arm. You may also be given pain medications to relieve the pain. After your pain reduces your doctor may recommend gentle shoulder and elbow exercises to minimize stiffness and weakness in your shoulder. Follow up with your local doctor until your fracture heals.

Surgery

Surgery may be required in case of displaced fractures. Surgery is performed to re-align the fractured ends and stabilize them during healing. Surgery often involves use of nails or plates and screws to maintain proper position of the bone during healing.

Plates and Screws fixation

During this surgical procedure, your surgeon will reposition the broken bone ends into normal position and then uses special screws and metal plates to hold the bone fragments in place. These plates and screws can be left in the bone. If they cause any irritation, they can be removed after fracture healing is complete.

Nails

Placement of pins nails may be considered to hold the fracture in position. These can only be used in some situations.