A broken collarbone, or clavicle, is a common injury. The collarbone is the bone that connects the shoulder to the sternum, and it helps to support the arm. When you fracture it, you’ll feel a sharp pain in your shoulder or neck, and an inability to move your arm. If you think you have a broken collarbone, you should see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible. Here’s how they can treat your condition:
The first step in treating a broken collarbone is to get a diagnosis. Your orthopedic surgeon will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. They will also examine your shoulder and neck for pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, and deformity. In some cases, an X-ray may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
There are two categories of treatment for a broken collarbone — non-surgical and surgical. Here are the non-surgical treatments available to you:
You will need to rest your shoulder and avoid moving it for at least six weeks. Jostling your shoulder too much can cause the broken ends of the collarbone to move out of place. It can delay your healing and increase your risk of complications.
Apply ice to your shoulder for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. However, don’t apply ice directly to your skin. Instead, wrap it in a towel or piece of cloth.
Take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help relieve pain. If you’re taking other medicines, ask your orthopedic surgeon if it is safe to take pain medication, too.
Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend wearing a sling or shoulder immobilizer to keep your shoulder from moving. It will help support your arm and allow your collarbone to heal correctly. Don’t remove the sling unless your doctor allows it.
Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgical treatment if your collarbone injury is severe or does not heal with conservative treatment. The two types of surgical procedures are:
Open Reduction And Internal Fixation (ORIF)
This procedure involves putting the broken pieces of the collarbone back into place and securing it with plates and screws. This is the traditional approach to fixing a collarbone that has misaligned and/or multiple broken pieces.
Plate And Screw Fixation
This procedure is similar to ORIF, but it does not require a large incision. Instead, your orthopedic surgeon will access the broken bone through a small incision in the armpit. They will put the bone pieces back into place and secure them with plates and screws.
These procedures are usually outpatient, meaning you won’t have to stay in the hospital overnight. However, you should ask someone to drive you home after the operation, because you will likely receive pain medication that makes you drowsy. After your surgery, you will need to wear a sling for at least four to six weeks. You will also need to attend physical therapy to help regain strength and range of motion in your shoulder.
The recovery process after a broken collarbone can take several weeks or months. Follow your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions and attend all your physical therapy appointments to recover quickly and effectively.
Physical therapy will help you regain strength and range of motion in your shoulder. Your therapist can also help decrease pain and swelling in your injury. How long you need to attend physical therapy depends on the severity of your condition. However, most people usually require four to six weeks.
Most patients fully recover from a broken collarbone and can return to their normal activities. However, some may experience long-term complications, like shoulder pain or stiffness. If you have any concerns about your recovery, talk to your orthopedic surgeon.
Trusted Orthopedic Surgeon In San Antonio, TX
Orthopedic surgeons can treat broken collarbones with various methods depending on the severity of the break. Patients with mild or moderate fractures may benefit from conservative treatments like rest, ice, and pain medication. However, your provider may recommend surgery if your condition is severe. Your recovery can take weeks or months, and you will need physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion.
Are you looking for a trusted orthopedic surgeon in San Antonio? Look no further than the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons can give you the comprehensive and compassionate care you deserve. Call us today at (210) 692-7400 to learn more about our services. You can also fill out our easy-to-use appointment request form for a consultation. We look forward to serving you!