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Clavicle fracture (broken collarbone)

Clavicle fracture (broken collarbone)

Clavicle fractures (broken collarbones) account for approximately five percent of all fractures and can be very painful. Our experts at Schoen Clinic specialise in the treatment of fractures and will explore the best possible treatment for you. Sometimes a simple broad arm sling can help to reduce the pain that you are experiencing by holding the fracture in a better position. Occasionally, surgery will be necessary to effectively resolve your condition.

What is a broken collarbone?

A clavicle fracture is a break in the collarbone, one of the main bones in the shoulder. Most clavicle fractures occur when there is a fall onto the shoulder or an outstretched arm. A broken collarbone can be very painful and can make it hard to move your arm.

In most cases, these fractures can be treated by wearing a sling to elevate the arm and shoulder keeping the bone aligned whilst it heals. However, if the bone fragments are out of position, surgery may be needed to realign the bone.

Diagnosis

Examination will determine the site of the injury and ensure that the fracture fragments have not pierced the skin.

X-rays are required to make the diagnosis and help decide on the best form of treatment. A CT scan may be helpful in defining the position or the number of fragments present.

Symptoms of a broken collarbone

A clavicle fracture can be very painful and may make it difficult to move your arm. Other features may include:

  • Sagging of the shoulder downward and forward
  • Inability to lift your arm because of pain
  • A deformity or "bump" over the break
  • Bruising, swelling, and/or tenderness over the collarbone
  • A clicking sensation as the fracture fragments move

Causes: how do clavicle fractures occur?

Clavicle fractures are most often caused by a direct blow to the shoulder. This can happen during a fall onto the shoulder or a car collision. A fall onto an outstretched arm can also cause a clavicle fracture. They are common injuries sustained falling from a bicycle, or during sports activities like playing rugby or skiing.