What is a Fractured Clavicle?
This is the bone that runs along the front of the shoulder to the breast bone (sternum). This bone is usually fractured as a result of falling badly onto an outstretched arm or onto the shoulder. Or it can happen in a collision with an opponent in a contact sport such as Rugby or American Football. The likelihood of a clavicle fracture is increased if the playing surface is particularly hard.
Often it is the middle third bone that is broken and is very painful. Symptoms include a sudden pain after a fall or impact, swelling, possible bone deformity if one end of the bone becomes displaced. The collar bone will be tender to touch.
An x-ray can be used to confirm the fracture and how much displacement there is. In straightforward fractures with no complications, the arm will usually be placed in a sling to take the weight off the collar bone and allow it to heal over the course of 4-6 weeks.
If one end of the collarbone is displaced considerably, then surgery may be necessary and the two ends of bone may be pinned or plated together so they heal in-line.
Cold therapy should be applied in the first couple of days to ease pain, swelling and inflammation in the area. When the bone is healed, rehabilitation exercises should be performed to regain full strength after injury and immobilisation. Resistance bands are great for early stage shoulder strengthening.