A fracture of the clavicle (collarbone) is a common injury, especially in athletes. In this blog post, I will discuss all about collarbone fractures: what they are, treatment options, and how long it takes to heal. I will also talk about when you should see a doctor if you think you may have fractured your collarbone.
What is a clavicle (collarbone) fracture?
The clavicle is the bone that connects the shoulder to the chest. It is a long, thin bone that runs from the sternum (breastbone) to the acromion (shoulder blade).
A fracture of the clavicle occurs when this bone is broken or cracked. The most common cause of a collarbone fracture is a fall onto the shoulder or outstretched arm. This type of injury is also common in contact sports such as football, hockey, and lacrosse. Motor vehicle accidents and bike accidents often cause collarbone fractures as well.
Most collarbone fractures occur in the middle third of the bone. This is the area where the clavicle is the thinnest and weakest. The force of a fall or direct blow to the shoulder can cause this section of the bone to break. Collarbone fractures can also occur at the junction of the clavicle and sternum, or at the junction of the clavicle and acromion.
What are the symptoms of a fractured collarbone?
Symptoms of a collarbone fracture include pain at the site of the injury, swelling, bruising, and tenderness. The arm on the affected side may hang down or be held close to the body due to pain. You may also feel a grinding sensation when moving your shoulder. In some cases, the broken ends of the bone may protrude through the skin.
When should I see a doctor?
If you think you might have fractured your collarbone, it is important to see an orthopedic surgeon as quickly as possible. You’ll go through a physical exam as well as imaging of the affected area. The x-ray images will help determine the type and severity of the fracture.
What is the treatment for a collarbone fracture?
Treatment for a collarbone fracture will depend on the type and severity of the injury. In most cases, collarbone fractures can be treated with nonsurgical methods. This includes wearing a sling to immobilize the arm and giving the bone time to heal.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat a collarbone fracture. This is usually the case for severe fractures or those that do not heal properly with nonsurgical treatment. Surgery involves placing metal screws or plates on the bone to hold it in place until it heals.
How long does it take to recover from a collarbone fracture?
Most people make recover from a collarbone fracture within six to eight weeks. However, it may take longer for the bone to fully heal. During this time, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and avoid activities that could put stress on the healing bone.
How long can it take for the collarbone to fully heal?
It can take up to 12 weeks (about 3 months) for the bone to fully heal. However, most people make a full recovery in a shorter time period.
Will I have to take time off work?
Most people are able to return to work within four to eight weeks after sustaining a collarbone fracture. However, this will depend on the type of work you do and the severity of your injury. Your doctor will let you know when it is safe to return to work.
How do I make an appointment?
If you think you may have fractured your collarbone, contact my office to schedule an appointment. We will work with you to create a treatment plan that is right for you.
I look forward to helping you get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.