Clavicle Fracture Overview
The clavicle is the collarbone. It is a key structure connecting the breastplate to the shoulder blade and is at the center of some of your most important body motions. It absorbs force from many directions, so it is one of the most easily fractured bones in your body.
A substantial jolt to the shoulder or arm will put strain on the clavicle and sometimes cause a fracture. A clavicle fracture causes major pain radiating from the site if move your arm. In severe cases, you may also feel numbness, tingling, and weakness near the fracture and as far down as the hand. There may also have a break in the skin where a piece of the clavicle has been forced upward.
Treatment Options for a Fractured Clavicle
In all cases, you will want to see experienced Chicago orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Romeo without delay. The first step in diagnosis is an X-ray to confirm the fracture and assess the extent of the injury.
The good news is that surgery is often not needed, with more than 90% of cases resolving without surgery. In many cases, treatment starts with using a sling or special splint to minimize movement and allow time for your body to heal the fracture on its own. Recovery will take anywhere from six weeks to four months, depending on age and severity of the fracture. During this period, Dr. Romeo recommends applying ice packs several times a day to reduce swelling and ease pain. You may also be prescribed pain medication and given specific advice on ways to arrange your daily routine to promote healing (e.g., sleeping in an upright position). As the pain begins to subside, you will need to begin light exercises to prevent complications. Without adequate movement, the shoulder could develop restricted range-of-motion conditions such as frozen shoulder.
If the fracture has not healed on its own after nine months, surgery may be considered. In this case, a plate would be inserted into the damaged area and attached to the bone with screws. A bone graft may also be necessary, depending on the nature of the fracture. The surgical procedure restores the integrity of the clavicle and reduces or entirely eliminates the “bump” sometimes caused by the misaligned bone.
For more information about causes and treatment of clavicle fractures and other injuries to the collarbone, please request an appointment with experienced Chicago orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Romeo. Call or email our office today to schedule your visit.
Anthony Romeo, MD
Dr. Anthony Romeo is one of the nation’s leading orthopaedic surgeons specializing in the management and surgical treatment of shoulder and elbow conditions. His state-of-the-art practice employs minimally-invasive arthroscopic techniques to accelerate the recovery process for a range of challenging conditions.