Clavicle fracture (broken collarbone)

Simple treatment options

If the broken ends of the bone are well-aligned you may only need an appropriate sling. However, surgery may be needed if the broken ends of the bone have significantly shifted out of position or if the skin is tented or pierced. 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.

Arm support, medication and physiotherapy

  • Arm support – a simple broad arm sling is usually used for comfort immediately after the break and to keep your arm and shoulder in position while the fracture heals. This is designed to lift the elbow and shoulder keeping the fracture well-aligned.
  • Medication – can help relieve pain as the fracture heals.
  • Physiotherapy – although there will be some discomfort, it is important to maintain some motion to prevent stiffness. Patients can begin doing exercises for the hand, wrist and elbow soon after the injury. Once the fracture has healed we can rehabilitate you and your shoulder to return to full strength and function. This may take some months.

Conservative treatment methods

  • Arm support, medication and physiotherapy

ORIF Surgery

Your surgeon will discuss the details of your surgery with you. Open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) is the procedure most often used to treat clavicle fractures. During the procedure, the bone fragments are first repositioned (reduced) into their normal alignment. The pieces of bone are then held in place with special metal hardware. After being repositioned into their normal alignment, the bone fragments are 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 numbness below the incision, this will become less noticeable with time. The clavicle lies directly under the skin, you may therefore be able to feel the plate through your skin once the swelling reduces. The plate can be removed if you wish but only after two years once the fracture has consolidated.

Surgical treatment methods

  • ORIF Surgery