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Broken Clavicle - Overview

The clavicle is a bone which connects the shoulder and the sternum. It is 'S' shaped bone and can be easily palpated since, it is placed right under the skin. The basic function of the clavicle is support of the shoulder and sustain its alignment with the rest of the chest.

The very position of this bone makes it prone to fractures. Fracture of the clavicle most commonly occurs when a person falls onto an outstretched hand. The fracture is accompanying by cracking sound and right after the fracture the pain occurs. Being right under the skin the fracture can be easily noticed and there is obvious asymmetry when comparing both clavicles. Simple conformation of the clavicle fracture can be obtained by palpation of the broken bone. X-ray of the shoulder only proves something that has been evident during examination.

Middle part of the clavicle is broken in almost 85% of all cases. The fracture heals on its own and does not require surgical repair. Still surgery may be performed in extreme cases or serious complications. Right after the fracture the swelling can be reduced by cold compresses and the patient is prescribed painkillers to deal with pain. Patient's arm is put in a sling or a 'figure of eight' bandage. These aids help with the process of healing and need to be worn for at least two weeks.

Healing of Broken Clavicle

This type of fracture heals faster in younger people. In children the bone completely heals within 4 weeks. In teenagers the process of healing lasts approximately 6-8 weeks. And finally, in adults the fracture can completely heal even after 4 months. It may seem as if the healing is going to last forever but that is just the way it is. Patients need to prevent potential stiffness of the shoulder, elbow and wrist.

The process of healing may result in a little bump which is located at the very spot of the fracture. This bump may be visible or if not visible it can be easily palpated. The bump is painless and does not cause any trouble. Long-term complications are almost absent.

Surgery for Broken Clavicle

Some types of clavicle fracture require surgical repair. This particularly refers to open fracture. Open fractures are rather susceptible to infections and may cause bleeding. They require proper cleaning of the wound and sewing of the torn skin.

Fractures that are too close to A/C joint may heal too slowly and the process of healing can be properly enhanced by surgery. And finally, surgery is required in case of non-union of the fractures part.

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