Clavicle Fractures (Broken Collarbone)

Dr Marcus Chia - Shoulder Surgeon

Dr Marcus Chia offers specialist management and surgery for clavicle fractures (broken collarbone) of the shoulder.

The collarbone (clavicle) of the shoulder can become fractured from a direct blow or a fall onto the shoulder. This is a common injury for athletes and frequently occurs in rugby players and cyclists. Clavicle fractures can occur anywhere along the bone and in numerous configurations. They can also involve the joints at either end, the acromioclavicular joint and the sternoclavicular joint.

Most present with pain, swelling and deformity (a lump over the collarbone). There may be tenting of the skin over the fracture. There may be bruising or a graze over the shoulder. Shoulder movements are painful, particularly above shoulder level. Rarely, clavicle fractures are associated with damage to the blood vessels and nerves that supply the arm.

Xrays are necessary to assess the need for surgery. In some cases a CT scan may be required.

The majority of clavicle fractures heal over time with the use of a sling and avoidance of activities for 6 to 10 weeks. The use of ice and simple analgesics is helpful to reduce pain and swelling. There may be a noticeable bump where the fracture has healed.

If the clavicle fracture does not line up well, is short or in multiple fragments (‘comminution’), surgery may be recommended. Clavicle fractures may be fixed with a plate and screws or the use of a long pin (‘intramedullary nailing’). Dr Chia’s preferred method of treatment, in the majority of cases, is with the use of a plate and screws. This involves a minimally invasive incision just below the clavicle which is usually less than half of the length of the plate. Surgery does not speed up the healing process but rather ensures that the bone heals correctly.

Post-operatively the shoulder will be placed in a sling for comfort which can be removed as needed. Ice is encouraged to control pain and swelling. All activities above shoulder level are to be avoided for the first 6 weeks. Return to contact sports is allowed once bony union has occurred, generally by 10 weeks. Plate removal is not routinely necessary due to Dr Chia’s use of the new pre-contoured, low profile plates.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. The information provided here is for general educational purposes only. For more information on clavicle fractures or to learn more about clavicle fracture fixation, please contact the office of Dr Marcus Chia - Sydney Orthopaedic Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon.

For appointments and enquiries, please phone (02) 8014 4252

Peninsula Orthopaedics
Suite 20, Level 7
Northern Beaches Hospital
105 Frenchs Forest Road
Frenchs Forest NSW 2086

Mona Vale Rooms
Suite 502, 20 Bungan Street
Mona Vale NSW 2103

Cremorne Rooms
Suite 1, 402 Military Road
Cremorne NSW 2090

Northside Orthopaedics
Suite 403, Level 4
San Clinic
Sydney Adventist Hospital
185 Fox Valley Road
Wahroonga NSW 2076

Orthopaedic Associates
Level 1, Suite 1
Lakeview Private Hospital
17-19 Solent Circuit
Norwest NSW 2153

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