PT eDigest

PTD1014_CollarboneKnitting Up Your Broken Collarbone

Better known as a broken collarbone, a clavicle fracture is a common injury among people of all ages. Despite its location, the collarbone is not part of the neck, but rather a bone that connects the rib cage and the shoulder blade. A break in the collarbone often occurs in the middle of the bone. Common causes of clavicle fractures include falling on one’s shoulder, involvement in a car collision or sustaining a direct blow to the shoulder.

Signs and symptoms of a broken collarbone often include

  • pain that increases with shoulder movement
  • swelling, tenderness or bruising
  • a bulge on or near the shoulder
  • a grinding sound or feeling when you try to move your shoulder
  • stiffness or inability to move your shoulder

Although plates, screws, pins and other surgical solutions are sometimes needed to treat a clavicle fracture, in most cases, the break will heal without surgery. Depending on the location of the break, the clavicle fracture will often heal itself as long as there is good blood supply and the ends of the fracture are somewhat aligned. If your physician determines that surgery will not be necessary, you may need to wear a splint or brace for at least six weeks to keep your shoulder in position.

During the six plus weeks your arm is immobilized, you will likely lose muscle strength. As your collarbone heals, you should feel pain relief, at which time your physician may recommend gentle shoulder and elbow exercises to prevent stiffness and weakness, while slowly regaining motion and strength.

If you are recovering from a broken collarbone, we can assist in the healing process. We can design a customized rehabilitation program that will restore strength to your shoulder and give you back your full range of motion.

Download the PTe Digest for October 2014