Fractured Clavicle or Broken Collarbone Injury

Symptoms & Treatment of the Common Sports Injury

Fractured collarbone, x-ray
Fractured collarbone, x-ray. Science Photo Library/ GettyImages

A fractured clavicle is also known as a broken collarbone. It's a very common sports injury that affects people of all ages. The collarbone is easy to see and feel. It is located between the ribcage, or sternum, and the shoulder blade, or scapula. The collarbone connects the arm to the body. It makes up the shoulder girdle.

Despite the fact that the collarbone is positioned above several important never and blood vessels, these structures are rarely injured when the collarbone breaks.

 A broken collarbone occurs as a result of direct impact to the clavicle, the upper arm, and the shoulder, due to falling onto the shoulder or an outstretched arm, a car crash, or any other form of impact. These fractures are also known to occur during childbirth as the baby passes through the birth canal.

Signs & Symptoms of a Clavicle Fracture

The signs and symptoms of a broken collarbone are usually pretty obvious. They include:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the shoulder
  • Inability to raise the arm
  • Sagging shoulder
  • An obvious bump over the fracture
  • Redness, bruising, swelling and tenderness around the collarbone

Treatment & Diagnosis of a Broken Clavicle

If you suspect you have a broken collarbone, see your doctor immediately. He or she will discuss the circumstances of your injury and examine your shoulder. A broken collarbone is often easy to detect because there is usually a very obvious bump at the site of the fracture.

Even the most gentle amount of pressure on this area is enough to cause pain.

An x-ray will be taken to examine for additional injuries to the shoulder. If there is more damage, a CT scan may be necessary. A broken collarbone can heal without surgery if the broken parts of the bones are still relatively intact.

An arm sling or wrap is used to keep the arm in position while the shoulder heals. Pain medication can be used to alleviate symptoms.

If the injury displaced bones, surgery may be necessary. Plates, screws, and pins can be temporarily inserted into the shoulder to realign the bones and hold them in the proper position while they heal. After the fracture has healed, the hardware is removed.

Whether your injury required surgery or not, some form of physical therapy is necessary. Once the bone begins to heal, at the very least, your doctor will probably ask you to do basic exercises to rebuild muscle strength and promote flexibility in the shoulder and elbow. These exercises begin with simple range of motion exercises and that build strength and restore function over time. Surgery requires more recovery. Your doctor may recommend a physical therapist or start you on an at-home therapy plan.

It can take several months for a broken collarbone to fully heal, whether treatment involves surgery or not.

A complete return to a sport or regular activities depends upon the severity of the fracture and the rate of healing. In most cases, fractured clavicles take between 6 and 8 weeks to heal. Surgery takes approximately 4 weeks to heal. Most people are able to resume regular activities within 3 months of the injury.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone). (2011, January). Retrieved April 03, 2016, from

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