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Shoulder

Clavicle Fracture

A Broken collarbone (fractured clavicle)
Signs of a break:

  • Sagging shoulder (down and forward).
  • Inability to lift the arm because of pain.
  • A grinding sensation if an attempt is made to raise the arm.
  • A deformity or “bump” over the fracture site.
  • Although a fragment of bone rarely breaks through the skin, it may push the skin into a “tent” formation.

Diagnosis
Although a broken collarbone is usually obvious, your orthopaedist will do a careful examination to make sure that no nerves or blood vessels were damaged. An X-ray is often recommended to pinpoint the location and severity of the break.

Treatment

  • A simple arm sling can usually be used to immobilize the arm. A child may have to wear the sling for 3 to 4 weeks; an adult may have to wear it for 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Depending on the location of the break, your physician may apply a figure-of-eight strap to help maintain shoulder position.
  • Analgesics such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen will help reduce pain.
  • A large bump will develop as part of the healing process. This usually disappears over time, but a small bump may remain.
  • Pendulum exercises are began to prevent stiffness then range of motion and strengthening exercises can begin as soon as the pain subsides.
  • However, you should not return to sports and activities until full shoulder strength returns.

In some cases, depending on the location of the break and the involvement of shoulder ligaments, surgery may be indicated. Surgery usually gives good results.

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