The clavicle or the collarbone is the bone found in both sides of the chest. These bones and the ligaments function in connecting the sternum or breastbone to both shoulders. A broken collarbone is a common injury among children and adults. It can be caused by injuries from sports, fall on a shoulder and vehicular accidents. This condition causes severe pain and tenderness of the joint and there is limited movement of the joint and inflammation and swelling of the affected area.
Causes of a broken collarbone
- A weak structure of bone due to genetic or from an acquired condition such as osteoporosis or cancer
- Sometimes, during delivery, the force used in delivering the baby can cause breakage of the collarbone.
- Sometimes in rare cases, the doctor has to break the collarbone of the infant in order for the baby to be delivered safely and this only happens when a process called shoulder dystocia will develop.
- Caused by falling directly on the shoulder or an outstretched arm during playing or sports.
- A direct blow to the collarbone such as tackling in football without wearing pads or crosschecked during playing hockey or lacrosse.
- An attack of seizure can damage the collarbone.
Symptoms of a broken collarbone
- Sudden pain in the area of the fracture
- A snapping sound can be heard on the affected area
- The affected side is drooping downward and forward caused by gravity.
- There is a severe pain when touching the collarbone along its length
- The skin sometimes bulges outward and becomes discolored to reddish-purple which indicates an early bruise.
An individual suspected with a broken collarbone will manifest any of these signs and symptoms.
Management of a broken collarbone
- Apply an ice pack over the affected area at least 2-3 days after the fracture. All you have to do is wrap a few pieces of ice cubes in a cloth or an ice bag and apply over the affected area. This helps minimize the pain, inflammation and tenderness.
- The individual should get plenty of rest in order to help with the fast healing of the condition.
- Wear an arm sling or a “figure-eight” strap that will fit around both shoulders to keep the bone in position. The duration of the immobilization will depend on the extent of the injury. The joining together of the bones takes about 4-6 weeks while children requires 6-12 weeks.
- Take the prescribed medications in order to minimize the swelling and pain.
- Perform some rehabilitation exercises and physiotherapy in order to help restore the strength of the muscle, movement of the joint as well as flexibility.
- The pain from a broken collarbone is usually minimized within 2-3 weeks. After this period, the individual can continue with the activities such as playing sports within 12 weeks.