Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone)

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What Is a Clavicle Fracture?

A clavicle fracture is a broken collarbone. It's a common injury related to trauma to the shoulder or direct impact to the clavicle.

The clavicle, or collarbone, provides stability and strength to your shoulder. It also protects nerves and blood vessels that run from the neck to the shoulder.

Broken collarbone causes and risk factors

A broken collarbone, or clavicle fracture, occurs when you receive a direct blow to the:

  • Outside part of your shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Outstretched arm

You can also break your collarbone if you fall on the “tip” of an unprotected shoulder.

Athletes that tend to be at higher risk of getting a clavicle fracture include:

  • Football players
  • Wrestlers
  • Ice hockey players

Make an appointment for a clavicle fracture

To make an appointment for a clavicle fracture, or broken collarbone, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about a broken collarbone

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Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone) Symptoms and Diagnosis

Broken collarbone symptoms

A clavicle fracture will often cause instant pain in the shoulder or collarbone.

Other broken collarbone symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Deformity
  • Limited range of motion in your arm

Broken collarbone diagnosis

Your doctor will look for signs of a fracture — such as a lump or bump — on the clavicle, or collarbone.

He or she will also check your:

  • Blood flow
  • Joint movement
  • Shoulder strength

Your doctor will also perform an x-ray to confirm a broken collarbone diagnosis and see the severity of the injury.

Make an appointment for clavicle fracture symptoms and diagnosis

To make an appointment for a broken collarbone, or clavicle fratcture, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about broken collarbone symptoms

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Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone) Treatment

If you break your collarbone while playing sports, you want to immobilize the shoulder first and seek treatment from a doctor.

Broken collarbone treatments include:

  • An arm sling.
  • Medicine for pain.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Surgery, for severe clavicle fractures.

Nonsurgical clavicle fracture treatments

Broken collarbone recovery time depends on the severity of the injury, but it usually heals on its own in about four to six weeks.

While your broken collarbone heals, you:

  • Will need to wear a sling to limit motion in your arm and shoulder.
  • Can take acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain.

Once the bone heals, you will need to:

  • Begin physical therapy.
  • Do some range of motion and strength exercises.
  • Avoid playing sports until the pain is gone and your strength has returned.

Clavicle fracture surgery

If you have a severe clavicle fracture, your doctor may suggest broken collarbone surgery.

You will need to remain in a sling for about six weeks after clavicle fracture surgery and begin physical therapy exercises right after.

It may take three months or more following clavicle fracture surgery to regain your full strength and return to activity.

Make an appointment for broken collarbone treatment

To make an appointment or learn more about broken collarbone (clavicle fracture) treatment, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about broken collarbone, or clavicle fracture, treatment

The links below will open a new browser window.

UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:

From our Health Library: