Clavicle fracture or broken collarbone is a very common injury associated with contact sports such as football and martial arts, as well as impact sports such as motor racing. A direct blow over the shoulder, fall on an outstretched arm or motor vehicle accident may also cause the clavicle bone to break. A broken clavicle causes difficulty in lifting your arm because of pain, swelling and bruising.
Clavicle fractures are diagnosed by reviewing your symptoms, performing a thorough physical examination and ordering imaging studies (X-ray and CT scan). Your arm is placed in a sling to immobilize the bones and allow healing. Medication is prescribed to relieve pain, and physical therapy ordered to prevent stiffness and weakness of the shoulder.
A broken clavicle bone usually heals without surgery, but if the bone ends have shifted out of place (displaced) surgery is recommended. Surgery is performed to align the bone ends and hold them stable during healing. It may be considered for multiple fractures, compound (open) fractures, fracture associated with nerve or blood vessel damage and displaced fractures. During the surgical procedure, your surgeon will reposition the broken bone ends into normal position, and then use special screws and metal plates to hold the bone fragments in place. Following surgery, your rehabilitation would include physical therapy, which designs specific exercises that will improve strength and increase your range of motion.