Broken Collarbone (Clavicle Fracture)
Hard falls and collisions are a reality of sports, and they often lead to injuries. Taking a spill and falling on a shoulder or with arms outstretched puts tremendous stress on the shoulder and on a small bone called the clavicle, or collarbone. If the stress is too great, the collarbone can break.
Broken collarbones are one of the most common sports injuries among kids and teens.
About Broken Collarbones
The collarbone runs between the top of the breastbone (sternum) and the shoulder blade (scapula) and helps connect the arm to the rest of the body. You can feel your collarbone by touching the area between your neck and your shoulder. Most people can see their collarbones sticking out beneath the skin when they look in the mirror.
A broken collarbone typically occurs as a result of a direct blow to the shoulder or a fall onto an outstretched arm. Collarbone breaks (fractures) are common in contact sports (like football, lacrosse, and hockey) and in sports where there is a chance of a hard fall (such as biking, skiing, snowboarding, and skateboarding). They also can occur from direct trauma to the collarbone during a car collision or other accident.
Most collarbone fractures will heal on their own if the arm is properly immobilized in a sling and the injury is treated with ice and physical therapy. Sometimes, however, if the collarbone is significantly displaced or the break is particularly severe, surgery may be needed to realign the bone, with screws and plates inserted to hold the collarbone in place as it heals.
If your child has a broken collarbone, the most obvious symptoms will be pain in the affected area and difficulty moving the affected arm. Other symptoms include:
- swelling, tenderness, and bruising along the collarbone
- increased pain when your child tries to move the shoulder or arm
- feeling a grinding or crackling sensation if trying to raise the arm
- a bulge or deformity above the break (in rare cases, the broken end of the bone may even penetrate the skin and be exposed)
- slumping or sagging of your child's shoulder down and forward
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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