A broken collarbone has a variety of causes. Some of usual causes include trauma, certain ailments and genetic predisposition for weak bones. In some cases, the clavicle of a newborn child might break during delivery. The clavicle is found on both sides of the chest that links the sternum to both shoulders.
What are the indications?
- Pain at the site of the fracture
- Snapping sound can be heard at the time of injury
- Individual holds the affected arm near the body and supports it using the other hand.
- The shoulder on the affected side appears slumped downward and forward due to gravity
- If the area of the clavicle is touched, pain is intense at one area which pinpoints the site of damage. In some cases, a crunching sensation can be noted over the break which is called crepitus.
- Skin over the site of the broken collarbone often protrudes outward with a reddish-purplish appearance that indicates an early bruise.
Management of a broken collarbone
In most cases of a broken collarbone, the injury heals on its own. If there is no need for surgery, a sling is worn to prevent movement of the arm and shoulder as the bone recuperates. For adults, the sling is worn for a few days or up to a week. As for children, a sling is used for 3-4 weeks.
Simple exercises can be started right away and later progress to strengthening exercises if pain is not triggered.
The pain caused by a broken collarbone can be managed with pain medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
There are cases in which surgical intervention is needed especially for serious breaks. Once the end points of the fractured bone do not align with each other, surgery is an option. After surgery, a sling is worn for up to 6 weeks. Physical therapy will follow to keep the shoulder mobile for up to 6 weeks. Most can return to normal activity after 3 months of surgery.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on a broken collarbone is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, register for a first aid and CPR course with Ottawa First Aid.