A broken collarbone is a common injury that usually occurs in children and young adults. The collarbone or clavicle attaches the upper part of the sternum or the breastbone to the shoulder blade. Injuries to the collarbone can be caused by sports injuries, a fall on the shoulder and vehicular accidents.
In most cases, a broken collarbone heals with the help of ice compress, analgesics, using a sling and physiotherapy. A broken collarbone causes severe pain and tenderness of the joint and there is limited movement of the joint. The affected area starts to swell and becomes evidently inflamed.
Common symptoms of a broken collarbone
- A snapping sound can be heard.
- The shoulder of the affected area is drooping downward and forward caused by gravity.
- The skin found over the break sometimes bulges outward and may become discolored with a reddish-purple hue which is a sign of bruise.
- A broken collarbone causes pain in the affected area of the fracture.
- The affected person holds the arms close to the body and supports it with the other hand in order to avoid movement of the shoulder and trigger pain. Among young people, they still have good range of motion of the arms despite sustaining a broken collarbone.
- A crunching feeling can be felt over the injury which is called crepitus.
Common causes of a broken collarbone
- Major trauma such as a bike or car accident and significant trauma to the shoulder that causes fractures.
- Trauma and injury on the field or court can cause fractures on the collarbone
- Injury at birth caused by injury that happens during the delivery.
Treatment and home remedies for a broken collarbone
- Apply an ice pack on the affected area at least 2-3 days after the injury. You can use an ice bag or wrap a few ice cubes in a clean washcloth since it helps in minimizing the pain, inflammation and tenderness.
- Minimize movement of the affected area in order to promote fast healing of the affected area.
- Encourage the individual to get enough rest for fast healing and recovery.
- Wear a “figure eight” strap that is placed around the shoulders that prevents the broken bone from moving. The length of immobilization will depend on the extent of the injury. Joining together of the bones usually takes about 4-6 weeks among children and 6-12 weeks for adults.
- Take the prescribed pain medications in order to help minimize the pain and swelling.
- Perform simple exercises since these can help lessen the stiffness in the shoulder after removal of the sling. Perform exercises that helps restore the mobility and strengthen of the shoulder. Seek the guidance of a physical therapist so that the suitable rehabilitation exercises can be started.
Using proper safety equipment during organized activities in sports can help minimize the risk for ending up with a broken collarbone, specifically using shoulder pads when playing hockey, football, lacrosse and other activities.