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Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone)

Nonsurgical Treatment

If the broken ends of the bones have not shifted out of place and line up correctly, you may not need surgery. Broken collarbones can heal without surgery.

Arm Support

A simple arm sling or figure-of-eight wrap is usually used for comfort immediately after the break. These are worn to support your arm and help keep it in position while it heals.

This x-ray shows a fracture in the middle of the clavicle. Note how far out of place the broken ends are.

Reproduced with permission from JF Sarwark, ed: Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, ed 4. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010.

Medication

Pain medication, including acetaminophen, can help relieve pain as the fracture heals.

Physical Therapy

While you are wearing the sling, you will likely lose muscle strength in your shoulder. Once your bone begins to heal, the pain will decrease and your doctor may start gentle shoulder and elbow exercises. These exercises will help prevent stiffness and weakness. More strenuous exercises can gradually be started once the fracture is completely healed.

Doctor Follow-Up

You will need to see your doctor regularly until your fracture heals. He or she will examine you and take x-rays to make sure the bone is healing in good position. After the bone has healed, you will be able to gradually return to your normal activities.

Complications

The fracture can move out of place before it heals. It is important to follow up with your doctor as scheduled to make sure the bone stays in position.

If the fracture fragments do move out of place and the bones heal in that position, it is called a "malunion." Treatment for this is determined by how far out of place the bones are and how much this affects your arm movement.

A large bump over the fracture site may develop as the fracture heals. This usually gets smaller over time, but a small bump may remain permanently.

Dr. Longobardi offers unique office services:

  • A Creative tracking system for patient examination
  • Quick, confidential access to one's medical history
  • Digital X-Rays at the time of examination
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