Symptoms and Signs of Broken Collarbone

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/11/2022

Doctor's Notes on Broken Collarbone

A broken collarbone is a fracture of the collarbone, medically known as the clavicle. Traumatic injury is the typical cause of a clavicle fracture. In particular, falling onto an outstretched arm or on the shoulder may create enough pressure to break the collarbone. Collarbone fractures are relatively common injuries.

Signs and symptoms of a broken collarbone include:

  • pain, 
  • swelling, 
  • bruising, and 
  • tenderness over the collarbone. 

The pain may cause an inability to raise the arm or move the shoulder. Other associated signs and symptoms may include:

  • a lump or deformity visible at the area of the break, 
  • sagging of the shoulder downward and forward, or 
  • a grinding or crackling sound or feeling experienced when trying to raise the arm.

What Is the Treatment for a Broken Collarbone?

Treatment for a broken collarbone depends on the severity of the fracture. 

  • Some cases will heal with rest, ice, and using a sling for the affected arm. 
  • More complex fractures require surgical repair, which may involve the use of plates, screws, or pins to hold the fragments in place.
  • Medications to control pain are also a part of the treatment for a broken collarbone.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.