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Broken Collarbone: Basics, Symptoms, and Treatments

Basics of a Broken Collarbone

The collarbone – also known by its formal name, the clavicle – is one of the largest bones in the shoulder. It connects the ribcage to the shoulder blade and helps your arms move. As with any bone, it is vulnerable to fractures through trauma. These can include a fall, a collision, or a sports-related injury. These types of injuries are not uncommon. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates that around 5% of all adult fractures are related to a broken collarbone. Read on to learn about the causes, risk factors, and treatment options for a broken collarbone, as well as what we do at 3D Sports Medicine to treat this type of injury. If you suffer a traumatic injury and think you have broken or injured your collarbone, call us at 3D Sports Medicine or, if it’s after hours, go to the emergency room immediately. It’s essential to start treating the injury as soon as possible.

Who’s At Risk?

Young people are at the highest risk for a broken collarbone, for a few reasons. First of all, the collarbone doesn’t finish fully developing until age 20. This means that children and teenagers have softer collarbones that are more susceptible for injury. Second, many collarbone injuries are caused by direct trauma, which in turn can often be caused by contact sports. This makes youth sports – particularly those with full contact like lacrosse and football – a particularly dangerous source of clavicle fractures.

Although children and teenagers under 20 years of age are at the most risk for collarbone injuries, older adults are susceptible as well. Just as the collarbone is under-developed in young people, it becomes brittle and easily broken in adults over age 70. In older people, collarbone injuries are most often caused by things like collisions or falls. Though these are the most common age groups for these types of injuries, anyone can suffer a collarbone fracture.

Symptoms of a Broken Collarbone

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons writes that the most common symptoms of a broken collarbone include:

  • A bump or protrusion at the point of injury, that could look like a “tenting” of the skin
  • A bruise or swelling at the point of injury
  • Severe pain throughout the collarbone and arm, that prevents you from lifting your arm
  • Stiffness in the shoulder or arm area, preventing you from moving your shoulder
  • A grinding sound in your shoulder when you try to move it

To confirm a broken collarbone, 3D Sports Medicine will take an X-ray of your clavicle. If more information is necessary, Dr. Dominguez may order a CT scan. We’ll also perform a detailed physical examination to make sure there are no other injuries or complications related to the broken collarbone.

Treatment: Where 3D Sports Medicine Comes In

As with any injury, treatment for a broken collarbone depends on the severity of the trauma. The Mayo Clinic recommends that all treatments include restricting movement of the collarbone using a sling, medication, and physical therapy. Medications include pain relievers, anti-inflammatory agents, or in more severe cases, prescription narcotics. Physical therapy is essential in regaining strength and motion in your arm and collarbone, and should begin as soon as possible. The extent of the therapy varies based on the injury – Dr. Dominguez will decide what’s best. If the broken collarbone cannot be treated with these options, then a routine surgical procedure may be necessary. These procedures usually involve inserting a plate or screw to keep the broken collarbone in place.

At 3D Sports Medicine, we specialize in treating traumatic fractures. Dr. Dominguez worked as an orthopedic traumatologist in Melbourne prior to specializing in sports medicine. This work gave him invaluable experience working with traumatic injuries, including broken collarbones and other fractures. For conventional collarbone injuries, we have state-of-the-art casting and splinting treatments. For more complex fractures, Dr. Dominguez may perform a minimally invasive surgery. For more information, see our Orthopedic Services page.

If you believe you may have injured or broken your collarbone, call 3D Sports Medicine for an appointment right away. (321) 610-8939.