The collarbone, also called the clavicle, is the curved bone located between your shoulder and your neck. It is what connects the shoulder blade (scapula) with the sternum (center of the ribcage).
Thanks to its location at the top of the torso, the clavicle is particularly prone to injury. However, collarbone injuries are usually bone fractures and rarely affect the nerves and blood vessels underneath the bone.
How Does a Collarbone Fracture Happen?
Collarbone injuries are one of the most common injuries that occur to those who play sports. For example, football players are prone to a broken collarbone when falling directly onto the shoulder or when crashing into other players. Babies often suffer a broken collarbone while being born because of the pressure.
A broken collarbone is usually a result of a direct hit against the shoulder, being injured in a car accident, or attempting to break a fall with the arm. When immense pressure suddenly strikes the shoulder, the force is often reflected to the clavicle, causing a break.
This type of injury does cause immense pain, so you will find it very difficult to move your arm. Treatment usually includes wearing an arm sling to restrict the movement of the arm and shoulder while the broken bone heals. Treatment may also involve wearing a brace to keep the collarbone in place.
Some clavicle fractures do require surgery, particularly if the broken bone has moved away from the original location. Surgery will realign the collarbone using screws, plates, or rods.
Symptoms of a Broken Collarbone
You have likely fractured your clavicle if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Bruising, swelling, or tenderness in the area
- Pain in your shoulder or the upper portion of your chest
- Inability to lift your arm over your head
- Seeing bone deformity at the top of the shoulder
- Hearing popping or clicking sounds while moving the shoulder
- Feeling a grinding sensation when you try to raise your arm
- A sagging shoulder
Severe broken collarbones will cause the skin to form a “tent,” and the bone deformity will be obvious. See a doctor as soon as possible.
Physical Examination for a Broken Clavicle
A medical exam needs to be done to confirm the presence of an injury in your shoulder bone. Your orthopedist will ask you questions about the activity that caused the symptoms while examining the area of your injury.
The physician may also perform tests to make sure there is no damage to the nerves and blood vessels in and around the site of the injury. If needed, your doctor will order an X-ray to check the state of your bone and to determine how severe the injury is. If the X-ray reveals that more bones or tissues are affected, a CT scan may be ordered to examine the bones, tissues, nerves, and vessels in greater detail.
Sports Medicine Clinic in San Antonio, Texas
If you suspect that you have a broken collarbone or other musculoskeletal injury, make an appointment at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Our physicians are experts at diagnosing and treating fractured collarbones, injured muscles, torn ligaments, and orthopedic issues of all kinds.
We specialize in providing top-notch orthopedic care, and we are able to provide a wide range of surgical procedures and rehabilitative treatments for orthopedic conditions and injuries.
Don’t live another day in pain due to a broken collarbone. Call our friendly staff at (210) 692-7400 or request an appointment online now. We look forward to helping you get back in the game.