The collarbone is one of the most commonly fractured bones in the body, especially among children and teenagers. At OrthoOIC Orthopedic Immediate Care in Arlington, VA, our orthopedic doctors have a wealth of experience and expertise in treating broken collarbones. As such, if you have experienced a broken collarbone, we would be happy to help restore it back to health.
What Is a Broken Collarbone?
The collarbone, also known as the clavicle, is found beneath your neck and extends from the breastbone to the shoulder on each side of the chest. As such, a broken collarbone is when a fracture or break occurs in one or both of the clavicles on either side of the chest.
There are three different types of collarbone or clavicle fractures, known as distal clavicle fractures, which occur near the end of the collarbone at the shoulder joint; medial clavicle fractures, which are rare and occur near the end of the collarbone at the breastbone; and mid-shaft clavicle fractures, which are the most common and occur in the central part of the collarbone.
Broken collarbones are commonly caused by sports injuries, auto accidents, or when a person falls onto their shoulder or outstretched hands. Children and teenagers are at higher risk of experiencing a broken collarbone than adults because the collarbone does not completely harden until around the age of 20.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Broken Collarbone?
A broken collarbone is a significant injury that causes distinct pain. If you have suffered a broken collarbone, you may experience any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Bruising, swelling, and tenderness in the upper chest and lower neck area
- Cracking or grinding sound that occurs with shoulder movement or when lifting your arm
- Deformity, bulge, or bump at the fracture site
- Difficulty or inability to move your shoulder or lift your arm
- Pain that gets worse when you move your shoulder or lift your arm
- Shoulder that sags downward or forward
How Are Broken Collarbones Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose a broken collarbone, a doctor will likely perform a physical inspection of the injured area, assessing it for deformity, swelling, tenderness, or an open wound. After the physical assessment, they will send you for an X-ray to confirm and determine the extent of the fracture, pinpoint the precise location of the fracture, and find out if there has been any damage caused to the surrounding joints.
How Are Collarbone Fractures Treated?
For any collarbone fracture, the primary focal point of treatment is restricting movement in the injured area. As such, immobilization will be required for any fractured collarbone, often using an arm sling to keep the shoulder from moving. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the sling will likely need to be worn for six to 12 weeks for adults and three to six weeks for children.
Other methods for treating a collarbone fracture include over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication, a prescription medication containing a narcotic for severe pain temporarily, as well as rehabilitation and physical therapy once the collarbone has sufficiently healed to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion to the injured area. Surgery may be required to repair a fractured collarbone if the bone has pierced through the skin, is significantly displaced, or is broken in several places.
If you have suffered a broken collarbone and are looking for swift and highly effective treatment, we welcome you to come to OrthoOIC Orthopedic Immediate Care for a walk-in appointment! We serve patients from Arlington VA, Fairfax VA, Washington DC, Bethesda MD, Falls Church VA, Alexandria VA, and surrounding areas.