Clavicle

What is the clavicle and what does it do?

The clavicle, commonly called the “collarbone,” functions to help suspend or hold the shoulder and shoulder blade (scapula) in position to allow proper shoulder function.

How do you treat a clavicle fracture?

The treatment of clavicle fractures depends on where it is broken (fractured) and the severity of the break.  Most clavicle fractures are treated without surgery but in some cases surgery is necessary to allow the best chance for a full recovery.  To see an x-ray of a clavicle fracture in which surgery was recommended, click here.

Why do you get a “bump” on your collarbone (clavicle) when it heals after being broken?

When a clavicle, or any bone, heals new bone forms around the area of the break.  This new bone is named callous.  The callous starts out as cartilage and is turned into bone by specialized cells in our body.  This bump is the new bone which has formed as the bone heals with extra bone.

Will this bump go away?

The bump (callous) will slowly get smaller over time but will most likely always be able to be felt.  This bump rarely causes problems.

Can you return to normal throwing and full activities after the clavicle fracture heals?

It is important to seek early evaluation by an orthopaedic specialist after a clavicle fracture.  The body begins the process of healing fractures very quickly.  Delaying evaluation of fractures is not recommended because in the rare cases requiring surgery, the surgery may be more difficult or impossible to be performed if the bone has healed too much.  We recommend evaluation of all broken bones within seven days of the injury.

My child is being treated with a sling for his clavicle fracture.  Is there anything else that will make him more comfortable?

Patients with clavicle fractures, not requiring surgery, are often quite uncomfortable for the first seven to ten days after injury.  A correctly fitting sling will help support the arm providing more comfort. There are several options for relieving pain.

  • Applying an ice pack to the shoulder over the break can be helpful.  Make sure that the ice back is not too heavy, as this may cause pain.  Also, please place a towel between the skin and ice pack to not cause any skin problems.
  • Resting in a more upright position (reclining chair, or multiple pillows behind the back)
  • Medications may be prescribed for short durations in some cases, otherwise over the counter pain medication may be used

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