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Clavicle Fracture

A fracture is a break in the bone that commonly occurs as a result of injury, such as a fall or a direct blow to the shoulder. Shoulder joint is the most flexible joint of the body. It allows different motions of the hands making it possible for us to do a vast array of different activities. However its flexibility makes it more prone to injuries. The type of shoulder fracture depends of the age of the patients. Clavicle fractures are more common in children. A fracture of the upper part of the arm (proximal humerus) is more common in elderly individuals and its frequency increases with age.

Clavicle fractures

A clavicle fracture, also called broken collarbone is a common fracture that happens to people of all ages. The collarbone, also called the clavicle, is the bone that connects your sternum or breastbone to your shoulder.

Causes

A broken collarbone normally occurs after a fall onto the shoulder or a motor vehicle accident. The most common sports associated with clavicle fractures include football, hockey, and skiing.

Symptoms

A broken collarbone most often causes pain, swelling and bruising over the collarbone.  Pain increases with shoulder movement. Your shoulder may be slumped downward and forward. You may also have a bump around the area of the break. You may hear a grinding sound when you try to raise your arm.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a broken collarbone, your doctor will take a brief history, about the injury, and perform a physical examination of your shoulder. An X-ray of the clavicle is taken to identify the location of the fracture. Your doctor may also recommend a computerized tomography (CT) scan in some cases.

Conservative Treatment Options

Most broken collarbones heal without a surgery. An arm sling may support the arm and hold the bones in their normal position. You may also be given pain medications to relieve the pain.  After your pain reduces your doctor may recommend gentle shoulder and elbow exercises to minimize stiffness and weakness in your shoulder. Follow up with your doctor until your fracture heals.

Surgery

Surgery may be required in case of displaced fractures. Surgery is performed to re-align the fractured ends and stabilize them during healing. Surgery often involves use of pins or plates and screws to maintain proper position of the bone during healing.