If the broken ends of the bones have not significantly shifted out of place, you may not need surgery. Most broken collarbones can heal without surgery.
Non-surgical treatment may include:
- Arm support – a simple arm sling is usually used for comfort immediately after the break and to keep your arm and shoulder in position while the injury heals.
- Medication – pain medication, including acetaminophen, can help relieve pain as the fracture heals.
- Physiotherapy - although there will be some pain, it is important to maintain arm motion to prevent stiffness. Often, patients will begin doing exercises for elbow motion immediately after the injury.
After a clavicle fracture, it is common to lose some shoulder and arm strength. Once the bone begins to heal, your pain will decrease and your consultant may recommend gentle shoulder exercises. These exercises will help prevent stiffness and weakness. More strenuous exercises will be started gradually once the fracture is completely healed.
Surgery may be needed if the broken ends of the bones have significantly shifted out of place:
Surgery typically involves putting the broken pieces of bone back into position and preventing them from moving out of place until they are healed. This can improve the success of healing and improve shoulder strength and function when you have recovered.
The procedure most often used to treat clavicle fractures is known as an open reduction internal fixation. During this procedure, the bone fragments are first repositioned into their normal alignment. The pieces of bone are then held in place with special screws and metal plates attached to the outer surface of the bone.
After surgery, you may notice a small area of numb skin below the incision. This numbness will become less noticeable with time. Because the clavicle lies directly under the skin, you may be able to feel the plate through your skin.