What is a Clavicle Fracture?
The collarbone or ‘clavicle’ is a long thin bone that connects the shoulder blade to the chest bone. Symptoms include immediate pain over the fracture site, swelling, bruising and limited movement in the arm.
What causes a Clavicle Fracture?
Fractures or breaks of the Clavicle (collarbone) are common among injuries that include falling onto the shoulder.
The cause and location of the fracture depends on the injury, whether relating to a sport e.g. cycling, rugby or high impact e.g. a vehicle accident. This injury is common following cycling accidents when the rider goes over the handlebars and/or falls off the bike onto their shoulder.
How is a Clavicle Fracture diagnosed?
In order to diagnose a Clavicle (collarbone) Fracture, your specialist will conduct a physical examination and likely request an x-ray imaging scan.
Treatment and recovery
The majority of clavicle breaks will heal without surgery, and if your clavicle fracture is ‘good position’, surgery may not be required.
Sometimes, if the break causes the two ends of the bone to be far apart from each other or a lot of overlap of the bones, surgery may be recommended. An operation may be essential to help fix the structural faults caused by the fracture – especially if the fracture is not aligned (displaced) or there are fragments along with multiple fractures in surrounding bones.
Clavicle Fracture Fixation Surgery
During this type of surgery, an incision is made at the top of the shoulder. The fractured bone is identified, realigned and fixed with plates and screws. The goal of the surgery is to improve the chance of bone healing and to allow the bone to heal in a better position.
Your arm will be resting in a shoulder sling for two to six weeks. This is essential to minimise any movement at your shoulder joint and protect the work that has been done. Moving your shoulder inappropriately during this healing phase will reduce the potential benefits of the surgery.
Depending on the nature of your employment, you may be signed off from working from two to six weeks.