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Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone)

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Surgical Treatment

If your bones are out of place (displaced), your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery can align the bones exactly and hold them in good position while they heal. This can improve shoulder strength when you have recovered.

Plates and Screws

During this operation, the bone fragments are first repositioned into their normal alignment, and then held in place with special screws and/or by attaching metal plates to the outer surface of the bone.

After surgery, you may notice a small patch of numb skin below the incision. This numbness will become less noticeable with time. Because there is not a lot of fat over the collarbone, you may be able to feel the plate through your skin.

Plates and screws are usually not removed after the bone has healed, unless they are causing discomfort. Problems with the hardware are not common, but sometimes, seatbelts and backpacks can irritate the collarbone area. If this happens, the hardware can be removed after the fracture has healed.

(A) The clavicle is broken in more than one place and the fragments are severely out of alignment.
(B) The fractured pieces are held in place by a combination of plates and screws.

Reproduced with permission from Bahk MS, Kuhn JE, Galatz LM, Connor PM, Williams GR: Acromioclavicular and sternoclavicular injuries and clavicular, glenoid, and scapular fractures. Instructional Course Lectures, Vol. 59. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010, p 215.

Pins

Pins are also used to hold the fracture in good position after the bone ends have been put back in place. The incisions for pin placement are usually smaller than those used for plates. Pins often irritate the skin where they have been inserted and are usually removed once the fracture has healed.

Rehabilitation

Specific exercises will help restore movement and strengthen your shoulder. Your doctor may provide you with a home therapy plan or suggest that you work with a physical therapist.

Therapy programs typically start with gentle motion exercises. Your doctor will gradually add strengthening exercises to your program as your fracture heals.

Although it is a slow process, following your physical therapy plan is an important factor in returning to all the activities you enjoy.

Surgical Complications

People who use any kind of tobacco product, have diabetes, or are elderly are at a higher risk for complications during and after surgery. They are also more likely to have problems with wound and bone healing. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of surgery for your clavicle fracture.

There are risks associated with any surgery, including:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Pain
  • Blood clots in your leg
  • Damage to blood vessels or nerves
  • Nausea

The risks specific to surgery for collarbone fractures include:

  • Difficulty with bone healing
  • Lung injury
  • Hardware irritation

 

 

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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