Broken Collar Bones Often Cause Significant PainA clavicle fracture (broken collarbone) is a common and usually caused by trauma like when children fall on their shoulders. Children and young adults are more likely to sustain this kind of fracture.
The clavicle (collarbone) is a strong bone that is located between the breastplate/ribcage (sternum) and shoulder blade (scapula). The clavicle is located above a series of vital blood vessels and nerves.
The clavicle helps connect the arm to the rest of the body. Most breaks occur in the middle of the bone while fewer breaks occur at the ends of the bone.
A broken clavicle causes significant pain to the affected area and makes it difficult to move the arm and shoulder. Often times the skin around the collarbone will be swollen, tender and bruised. A popping or crackling noise can result when attempting to raise your hand. A bulge, bump or some other deformity will exist above the clavicle. This is the displaced bone. A compound fracture could cause the bone to pierce the skin. A clavicle fracture will also cause the shoulder to sag.
Diagnosis of a Broken Collar Bone
A physician will typically order an X-ray in order to clear the accident victim of potential fracture injuries. An emergency room physician might also order a CT scan which provides greater detail. If the physician discovers a fracture than steps will be taken to determine if any nerves, blood vessels or veins were damaged by the break.
Treatment and Surgery
A fractured clavicle can heal without surgery if the break did not displace the ends of the bone. Non-surgical treatment can include immobilization assisted by arm sling or wrap. This will ensure the bone sets properly. Casts are never used to immobilize a fractured collarbone. Medication might be prescribed to address any pain and anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to reduce any swelling around the break. Immobilization devices also reduce shoulder strength and range of motion. As a result the physician might prescribe physical therapy to increase range of motion and strength.
Surgery might be required if the clavicle fracture displaced the bone. In this case surgery is performed to realign the bone into the proper position. Screws and metal plates are sometimes used to hold the bone into place. If plates and or screws are used to set a collarbone fracture chances are they will remain in the body forever.
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