Broken Collar Bone

By Matt Paulus, MS, ATC, Site Coordinator

Where is My Collar Bone?

What is a broken collar bone or a clavicular fracture? . It is the bone in the front of your shoulder that connects the upper part of your breastbone (sternum) to your shoulder blade (scapula). You have one collar bone in each shoulder, and it can be easily felt like the long skinny bone at the top of your chest near your shoulder.

Broken Collar Bone

X-ray Image of a broken collar bone


Common Causes of a Broken Collar Bone or Clavicle Fracture

  • Auto accidents.
  • Falling onto your outstretched hand.
  • Sports injuries (collisions).
  • Occasionally, trauma during birth can cause a broken collar bone.

How Do I Know If I Have a Broken Clavicle?

image of man with broken collar bone pain after a bicycle accident

Collar bone injury after a bike accident

The medical term for a broken collar bone is a clavicle fracture. The only way to diagnose a fracture is with appropriate imaging (x-rays, MRI, CT scan) from your doctor. If you experience any of the following after trauma to your  shoulder, seeks medical attention:

  • Pain that increases with shoulder movement.
  • Swelling over the collar bone.
  • Tenderness over the collar bone.
  • Bruising.
  • Bulge or deformity on or near your shoulder.
  • Grinding or crackling sound when you try to move your shoulder.
  • Inability to move your shoulder, especially above shoulder height.

Treatment of a Broken Collar Bone

Most broken collar bones heal well with ice, pain relievers, a sling, physical therapy, and time. Limiting the movement of any broken bone is critical to healing. An arm sling will be utilized to immobilize the broken collar bone. Clavicle fractures are usually treated by orthopedic physicians (physicians who specialize in bones and joints).

The severity of the injury determines how long immobilization is needed. The bone union usually takes three to six weeks for children and six to 12 weeks for adults.

Complicated breaks might require surgery to realign the broken bone. During the surgery, the MD will use plates, screws, or wires to hold the bone properly while healing occurs.

Physical Therapy after a Broken Collar Bone

Once your physician clears you to begin physical therapy, the focus will be on regaining range of motion and strength. Your MD may have a specific protocol that allows you to progress at certain speeds depending on the type of fracture and healing speed.

When attending physical therapy, you may be seen by a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist assistant, or an athletic trainer. All will be working with one goal: to return you to your previous function level, including sports.  Therefore, with a little patience and hard work, the prognosis and outcome are very good for broken collar bones.

Related Articles: Direct Access to Physical Therapy, Common Injuries in Football, and Clavicle Fracture.

JOI and JOI Rehab

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician today.

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By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC, Site Coordinator

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