Toddler injuries: Dealing with a broken collarbone

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The collarbone is likely to break among children. Even though a fractured collarbone might be an indication of neglect or child abuse, it is typically due to the normal, rowdy activities of a toddler.

Since young children are unable to vocalize pain or discomfort, being familiar with the symptoms of a damaged collarbone can help in recognizing the injury.

What are the possible causes of injury?

A fractured collarbone where the bony ends are still aligned generally recuperates without requiring surgery.

It is important to note that toddlers are likely to end up with a broken collarbone from falls with the hands extended to the ground. A fall directly on the shoulder tip can also damage the bone.

There are nerves and blood vessels beneath the collarbone but they are not usually impaired if the collarbone endures trauma. Oftentimes, the bone produces a popping sound if it breaks, but most do not know that it is broken until the child shows other symptoms.


The toddler might not want to move his/her arm or keeps it close to the side of the body. This might be an indication of a broken collarbone.

If the child is picked up under his/her arms and cries or there is an evident lump, swelling or bruise on the collarbone, there is likely an injury. Other symptoms that might be present include:

  • Inability to raise his/her arm
  • Grinding sensation when raising the arm

After a few days or weeks, the bone forms a lump which is known as a callus where the damage is healing. In case the toddler has no evident symptoms, the callus is the only sign of damage.

Management of a broken collarbone

A fractured collarbone where the bony ends are still aligned generally recuperates without requiring surgery. The doctor will utilize a wrap or sling to stabilize the arm along with pain medications if needed.

In case the bony ends are significantly displaced, the doctor might insert plates and screws to align the bone for proper healing. Once the injury has healed, the doctor might prescribe physical therapy to strengthen the joint that has weakened or becomes rigid due to the placement of a sling for an extended period.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a broken collarbone in toddlers is for learning purposes only. Learn how the injury is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.

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