Broken Collarbone (cont.)
Broken Collarbone Treatment and Recovery Time
The vast majority of collarbone fractures can be treated with a simple sling. Sometimes a swath is wrapped around the sling to hold it to the body. Occasionally a figure-of-eight splint is used. This wraps around both shoulders and the neck to hold the shoulders back and up. Either method is appropriate treatment for the broken collarbone. Patients will be instructed to wear the sling at all times until there is no further pain with movement. This is usually 2 to 4 weeks for children and 4 to 8 weeks for adults. Commercially available slings can also be used.
A cast or brace usually is not necessary.
Patients will also be instructed to avoid the potential for further trauma during this time.
Some patients may take OTC pain medicine, but others might require a prescription pain medicine.
Follow up with a health-care professional until the patient is pain free; a few patients may require some rehabilitation.
Clavicle fractures will heal properly with standard treatment. But, rarely, people may have problems with fractures near the shoulder end of the clavicle. These people are often referred to an orthopedic surgeon within 2 to 3 days after breaking their collarbone. Some may require surgery.
Broken Collarbone Surgery
Surgical treatment is required in only about 5% to 10% of all clavicle fractures. One or more of the following conditions may require surgical repair of the clavicle:
- Multiple fractures in one clavicle
- Clavicle shortening due to bone loss (for example, bone is shattered)
- Open fracture of the clavicle (clavicle breaks through the skin)
- Clavicle break that involves vascular or nerve structures
- Nonunion of bone (bone pieces fail to heal together)
- Fractures that interfere with normal joint function (usually the acriomio-clavicular joint)
Last Reviewed 8/30/2017
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