Broken Collarbone (Clavicle) Quick Overview
- The clavicle (commonly referred to as
the collarbone) is a bone found on both sides of the chest that connects the
sternum or breastbone to both shoulders. A fractured clavicle is the medical
term used when the collarbone is broken.
- A broken collarbone can be caused by
trauma (sports injuries, car accidents, falls, etc.), genetically weak bones, or
illness such as osteoporosis or cancer. The clavicle of a newborn may break
- Symptoms of a fractured collarbone
include a pop or click sound and feeling when the collarbone breaks, followed by
sharp pain. The area will hurt when the arm is moved. The skin over the break
may bulge outward, and there may be
- A broken collarbone requires medical
care and an X-ray of the clavicle is usually needed. You may be referred to an
orthopedic specialist for treatment.
- Treatment for a broken collarbone
usually requires a sling or figure-of-eight splint to keep the area immobile for
several weeks. In some cases, surgery may be required.
- Most clavicle fractures heal within 4
to 8 weeks. Physical therapy may help with rehabilitation.
Broken Collarbone Causes
Some people can break their clavicle without any trauma. These people usually have weak bone structure either
because they were born with it (genetic cause) or from an acquired cause (such as
osteoporosis or cancer).
- Occasionally during delivery of an otherwise healthy baby, the forces involved in trying to deliver the baby from the mother can break the collarbone. This is the most common bone broken
in babies is during delivery. This is usually detected in the hospital, and the baby recovers well.
- Even more rarely, a physician may have to break the infant's collarbone in order to deliver the baby safely. This only occurs when a process known as shoulder dystocia develops. There are many other techniques available to overcome this, so it is rarely practiced today.
Children and adolescents
- The collarbone is the most commonly broken bone in childhood. These breaks are usually the result of falling directly on the shoulder or on an outstretched arm during play or sports. They can occasionally be the result of a direct blow to the collarbone, such as during tackling in football, or being crosschecked during hockey or lacrosse.
Adults and the elderly
- Broken collarbones in adults can occur from the same sports activities that cause similar injuries in children but are usually associated with automobile accidents and falls. Occasionally, a patient that has a
seizure will fracture the clavicle.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/23/2015
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