A broken collarbone is a break in the clavicle, the bone in the upper chest that connects the breastbone to the shoulder blade. Such breaks are relatively common, especially in babies, adolescents, and athletes. A broken collar bone can occur in several ways, but the most common involves some kind of trauma, such as falling, being hit directly on the shoulder itself, or involvement in an automobile accident.
Cause & Symptoms
Clavicle fractures are often caused by a direct blow to the shoulder. This can happen during a fall onto the shoulder or a car collision. A fall onto an outstretched arm can also cause a clavicle fracture. In babies, these fractures can occur during the passage through the birth canal.
Clavicle fractures can be very painful and may make it hard to move your arm. Additional symptoms include:
Sagging shoulder (down and forward)
Inability to lift the arm because of pain
A grinding sensation if an attempt is made to raise the arm
A deformity or “bump” over the break
Bruising, swelling, and/or tenderness over the collarbone
During the evaluation, your doctor will ask questions about the injury and how it occurred. After discussing the injury and your symptoms, your doctor will examine your shoulder.
There is usually an obvious deformity, or “bump,” at the fracture site. Gentle pressure over the break will bring about pain. Although a fragment of bone rarely breaks through the skin, it may push the skin into a “tent” formation.
Your orthopedic surgeon will carefully examine your shoulder to make sure that no nerves or blood vessels were damaged.
In order to pinpoint the location and severity of the break, your doctor will order an x-ray. X-rays of the entire shoulder will often be done to check for additional injuries. If other bones are broken, your doctor may order a computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan to see the fractures in better detail.
Great Lakes Physical Therapy
|The Physical Therapy team at Great Lakes Orthopedics offer a wide range of programs and specialized services to help our patients restore and maintain their physical strength, performance skills, and levels of function. Our well-trained, professional staff utilize the most progressive treatment options and techniques to ensure the best possible recoveries.
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