Collarbone injuries are prevalent in sports. The collarbone is the curved bone that travels from the middle chest to the shoulder and links it to the front of the chest wall. Since the bone is positioned close to the skin surface, it is prone to fractures.
What are the causes of collarbone injuries?
- Sustaining a direct blow to the shoulder, usually from the top part of the shoulder
- Indirect injury, usually by breaking a fall using an extended arm or receiving a blow to the exterior of the shoulder
- Acute shoulder pain or in the upper chest region
- Difficulty or inability to lift the arm over the head
- Evident deformity of the bone, usually at the top part of the shoulder or along the bone
- Clicking or popping of the separated bone during movement
While waiting for the doctor, you can provide first aid measures for collarbone injuries. You should stabilize the affected arm with a towel as a sling. The individual should limit moving the arm.
Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be given for pain relief. You should also place an ice pack on the affected area to lower the pain and swelling.
In most cases of collarbone injuries, they can naturally heal with a simple triangular sling that provides support to the arm and holds the bones together in their normal alignment. The sling is usually fitted in the hospital after an X-ray is taken to confirm that the collarbone is broken. Pain medications are usually given to reduce the pain.
Surgical intervention under general anesthesia is required if the injury is severe especially in cases where bone has broken through the skin or if the bones did not line up and overlap significantly.
Various techniques can be done to fix collarbone injuries. Fixing the break using plates and screws is the commonly used method.
How long does it heal?
Among adults, it takes around 6-8 weeks to heal, but might take longer. As for children, it might take 3-6 weeks to fully recuperate.
Nevertheless, it is vital to note that it might take at least the equivalent period again to reinstate complete strength to the affected shoulder. As the fracture recuperates, a lump might form throughout the collarbone. This is considered normal and often improves over the next months.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on collarbone injuries is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage injuries involving the collarbone by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.