The collarbone is a long thin bone between your breastbone (sternum) and your shoulder. It is also called the clavicle.
You have 2 collarbones, 1 on each side of your breastbone. They help to keep your shoulders in line.
A broken or fractured collarbone often occurs from falling and landing on your shoulder or from stopping a fall with your outstretched arm. It can also occur from a car, motorcycle, or bicycle accident.
A broken collarbone is a common injury in young children and teenagers because these bones do not become hard until adulthood.
Symptoms of a mild broken collarbone are:
Signs of a more serious break are:
The type of break you have will determine your treatment. If the bones are:
Follow up with an orthopedist (bone doctor) is recommended for all clavicle fractures..
How long your collarbone will take to heal depends on:
Applying an ice pack can help relieve your pain. Make an ice pack by putting ice in a zip lock plastic bag and wrapping a cloth around it. Do no put the bag of ice directly on your skin. This could damage your skin.
On the first day of your injury, apply the ice for 20 minutes of every hour while awake. After the first day, ice the area every 3 - 4 hours for 20 minutes each time. Do this for 2 days or longer.
For pain, you can take a type of medicine called NSAIDs. You do not need a prescription for these.
You may also take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for pain relief. If you have liver disease,talk with your health care provider before using it.
Do not take more than the amount recommended on the bottle or by your health care provider.
Your health care provider may prescribe a stronger medication if you need it.
At first while your collarbone is healing, you will need to wear a sling or wrap (called figure of 8 bandage). This will:
Once you can move your arm without pain, you can start gentle exercises to increase the strength and movement in your arm. At this point, you will be able to wear your sling less.
When you restart an activity after a broken collarbone, build up slowly. If your arm, shoulder, or collarbone begins to hurt, stop and rest.
Most people are advised to avoid contact sports for a month after their collarbone has healed.
Do not place rings on your fingers until your provider tells you it is safe to do so.
Call your health care provider or bone doctor if you have any questions or concerns that your collarbone is not healing.
Get care right away or go to the emergency room if:
Fracture - collarbone; Fracture - clavicle
Clavicle and scapula fractures. In: Eiff MP, Hatch R, eds. Fracture Management for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 9.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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