Clavicle fractures are a common fracture sustained by patients in all population groups. Because the clavicle plays an important role in connecting the arm to the body, treating it when it’s fractured is important. Common causes, symptoms, and treatments for clavicle fractures are:

Causes of Clavicle Fractures

The clavicle (or collar bone) is found between the sternum and the scapula. As part of the shoulder joint, it helps holds the arm to the body. The three most common causes of clavicle fractures are:

  • A direct blow to the shoulder
  • A fall onto the shoulder
  • Impact during a motor vehicle accident

Following a fracture, symptoms present to varying degrees.

 

clavicle fracture

Illustration 1- A clavicle fracture

Symptoms of Clavicle Fractures

Pain, swelling and tenderness usually accompany a clavicle fracture. As does a small bump over the fractured area. Additional symptoms that may present include:

  • A sagging shoulder
  • Decreased arm and shoulder mobility
  • Grinding sensation when moving the arm

A history and physical examination performed by an Orthopedic Specialist, and x-rays are usually enough to officially diagnose and formulate a treatment plan for a clavicle fracture.

 

Treatment of Clavicle Fractures

Ideally, nondisplaced clavicle fractures are treated non-operatively using:

  1. A sling. Keeping the arm and shoulder in a set position decreases pain and gives the fractured bone time to heal.
  2. Anti-inflammatory medications decrease inflammation and pain.
  3. Physical therapy. Properly exercising the shoulder and arm helps decrease pain and stiffness.

 

Significantly displaced fractures or fractures that are severely comminuted (the bone is broken into many pieces) may require surgical intervention as the risk for the bone not to heal or should function being affected is increased.

During an open reduction internal fixation procedure (ORIF), an Orthopedic Surgeon locates and reduces the fracture and then fixates it using a metal plate and screws. The procedure typically takes 1-2-hours and is done on an outpatient basis.  This can improve pain, alignment and help restore function quicker than doing conservative treatment.

Illustration 2- X-rays after an ORIF procedure

 

Seeking Treatment for Clavicle Fractures

Orthopedic Specialists are the most qualified medical professionals to take care of clavicle fractures. If you have or think you have one, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our 5 Long Island offices to arrange an appointment. We take fractures seriously and will get you in as soon as possible.

The physicians at Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine focus on both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of shoulder injuries and are one of the most innovative orthopedic practices in the area.  Dr. Charles Ruotolo, President of Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, has published several peer-reviewed studies on orthopedic care and orthopedic surgery of the shoulder.

Fortunately, many patients can be treated non-surgically with a combination of conservative modalities coordinated by the Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Team. If surgery is necessary, the practice uses a multidisciplinary approach to create a treatment plan that focuses on the patient’s lifestyle and activities and helps them get back to those activities quickly and effectively.  Expect a full recovery when in the hands of our trusted physicians.