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Broken collarbone - aftercare

Collarbone fracture - aftercare; Clavicle fracture - aftercare; Clavicular fracture

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Description

The collarbone is a long, thin bone between your breastbone (sternum) and your shoulder. It is also called the clavicle. You have two collarbones, one on each side of your breastbone. They help to keep your shoulders in line.

You have been diagnosed with a broken collarbone. Follow your health care provider's instructions on how to care for your broken bone. Use the information below as a reminder.

Where is the Collarbone?

A broken or fractured collarbone often occurs from:

More About Your Injury

A broken collarbone is a common injury in young children and teenagers. This is because these bones DO NOT become hard until adulthood.

Symptoms of a mild broken collarbone include:

Signs of a more serious break are:

What to Expect

The type of break you have will determine your treatment. If the bones are:

If you have a broken collarbone, you should follow up with an orthopedist (bone doctor).

Healing of your collarbone depends on:

Symptom Relief

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 NOT put the bag of ice directly on your skin. This could injure 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 to 4 hours for 20 minutes each time. Do this for 2 days or longer.

For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can buy these pain medicines at the store.

Your provider may prescribe a stronger medicine if you need it.

Activity

At first you need to wear a sling or brace as the bone heals. This will keep:

Once you can move your arm without pain, you can start gentle exercises if your provider says it's OK. These will increase the strength and movement in your arm. At this point, you will be able to wear your sling or brace 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 few months after their collarbones have healed.

DO NOT place rings on your fingers until your provider tells you it is safe to do so.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider or orthopedist if you have questions or concerns about the healing of your collarbone.

Get care right away or go to the emergency room if:

References

Andermahr J, Ring D, Jupiter JB. Fractures and dislocations of clavicle. In: Browner BD, Jupiter JB, Krettek C, Anderson PA, eds. Skeletal Trauma: Basic Science, Management, and Reconstruction. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 49.

Naples RM, Ufberg JW. Management of common dislocations. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts & Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 49.

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Review Date: 4/9/2018  

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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