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Broken Collarbone: Teen Version


What is a broken collarbone?

A broken collarbone is a break in the clavicle, the bone in your upper chest that connects your breastbone (sternum) to part of your shoulder blade (scapula). A broken collarbone is also known as a fractured clavicle.

How does it occur?

A broken collarbone can occur in several ways. You may fall on your outstretched arm and hand, you may fall on your shoulder, or you may be hit directly in the collarbone.

What are the symptoms?

You have pain and swelling at the area of the break. It is difficult to move your arm or shoulder. You may have heard a crack at the time of the injury.

How is it diagnosed?

A healthcare provider will need to examine the collarbone and do an X-ray to see if there is a break.

How is it treated?

To ease your discomfort, your collarbone may be immobilized in a "figure of 8" splint or brace that holds your shoulders back (as if you were standing at attention). Your arm may be put in a sling. Your provider will prescribe a pain medicine. Broken collarbones are very painful for the first few days.

Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.

Only rarely will a broken collarbone need to be surgically repaired.

How long will the effects last?

Most broken collarbones are healed within 6 to 8 weeks. Your healthcare provider may take another X-ray to be sure that the bone has healed. You must be able to move your clavicle, shoulder, and arm without pain before you can return to your activities or sports. You can start rehabilitation exercises after your broken bone has healed and your provider says it is OK.

How can I prevent a broken clavicle?

Clavicle fractures are usually the result of accidents that cannot be prevented.


Written by Pierre Rouzier, MD, for RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-02-08
Last reviewed: 2010-06-21

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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