A fractured clavicle, better known as a broken collarbone, is a common injury among athletes and children. In fact, many babies are born with collarbones that were injured during delivery. Since the collarbone doesn’t harden until a person is about 20 years old, a child’s clavicle can easily crack from a direct blow or a fall. In the case of an athlete, the force of a fall transmitted from the elbow and shoulder to the collarbone can result in a fracture.
The clavicle is one of the shoulder bones and helps connect the arm to the rest of the body. Most breaks occur in the middle section of the collarbone, and although the collarbone lies above several important nerves and blood vessels, these vital structures are rarely injured when the collarbone is fractured.
The orthopedic doctors at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio are experts at diagnosing and treating a fractured clavicle. Learn more about the injury below.
Signs of a Broken Collarbone
A broken collarbone is pretty obvious: your shoulder will sag down and forward, and you won’t be able to lift your arm because of the pain. Also, you’ll feel a grinding sensation if you try to raise your arm. You might notice a deformity or “bump” over the fracture side as a fragment of bone pushes the skin upward.
Treating a broken collarbone
The good news is that surgery is rarely necessary for a broken collarbone. This type of fracture tends to heal well with conservative treatment that includes:
- Wearing a simple sling to immobilize the arm. Children typically only need to wear a sling for about 3 to 4 weeks, while an adult should wear it for 6-8 weeks.
- Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help reduce pain
- Performing range of motion and strengthening exercises once the pain subsides. You should not resume any sports or overhead/reaching activities until your shoulder strength is fully restored.
If you break your collarbone, you should schedule a visit with one of the physicians at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio. For an appointment, call (210) 692-7400 or request one online.