The clavicle is commonly known as the collarbone. It spans between the sternum and the scapula, providing protection for the brachial plexus and the subclavian arteries (provides blood to head and arms). It is designed to support and align the shoulder.
Types of Clavicle Fractures
- simple, mid-bone fracture
- open fracture
Broken Clavicle Injury
Broken clavicles are common in slip and fall accidents and motor vehicle accidents. Most of the fractures are simple, mid-bone fractures. This type of broken clavicle tends to heal well on its own with the use of a sling the first week, then switching to a figure-eight harness for a few weeks to keep the bone in line as it heals. A broken clavicle has very few long term complications, although there will always be a visible bump.
If you sustain an open fracture, it is imperative to have a medical professional treat the fracture. Dirt, grass, glass, or any type of debris can contaminate the wound. Surgery may be required to prevent infection.
Surgery may also be required if the break is close to the shoulder (AC) joint. In this position, the clavicle fracture is unstable and prone to a nonunion. Nonunion is when the two pieces of bone will not attach and heal together. A nonunion may be stabilized with a plate and screws, but the fracture site may always be painful and uncomfortable.
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