The clavicle, commonly known as the collarbone, is the bone of the shoulder joint that connects the arm to the rest of the body. Clavicle fractures most frequently occur as a result of trauma from a blow to the shoulder, a fall, sports injury, or motor vehicle accident. They are most common in young children and older adults who are more susceptible to fractures, but may also occur in newborns as they pass through the birth canal during birth.
Symptoms of a Clavicle Fracture
A clavicle fracture, also referred to as a broken collarbone, causes the shoulder to slump forward and downward and some individuals may hear a snapping sound when the fracture occurs. Pain is often experienced at the time of fracture and the shoulder may be tender to touch. Patients may also experience:
- Pain while trying to move the arm
- Bruising or swelling over the collar bone
- A grinding sensation when attempting to move the arm
In some cases, a bump or bulge may appear on or near the shoulder.
Diagnosis of a Clavicle Fracture
Individuals with a clavicle fracture should seek immediate medical attention. A doctor examines the shoulder to determine whether or not a fracture has occurred and X-rays may be taken to determine the type and severity of the fracture. In some cases, a CT scan may be performed to obtain more detailed images.
Treatment of a Clavicle Fracture
Most fractured collarbones can be treated through conservative methods such as immobilization through the use of a sling, and medication to reduce pain and inflammation. After healing begins, physical therapy is often recommended to restore movement and increase muscle strength. In severe cases when the bone has moved severely out of place or broken into several pieces, surgery may be required to repair or reposition the bone to initiate proper healing.