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Treatment. Broken collarbone

By Editorial Team (Y)
November 26, 2021
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Broken collarbone treatment

The immobilization of broken bones is critical in the treatment of broken collarbone. To restrict the movement in a broken collarbone, an arm sling is usually prescribed. The length of time an arm sling needs to be worn depends on how severe the injury is.

Healing of a broken collarbone generally takes up to six weeks in children and up to 12 weeks in adults. When infants suffer a broken collarbone during the birthing process, the bone usually heals without treatment other than careful handling of the infant and pain control if needed.

Medications as a broken collarbone treatment

To relieve pain and reduce swelling, over-the-counter pain relievers are usually recommended for a broken collarbone. For severe pain, stronger pain medication might be prescribed.

Therapy

Gentle exercise typically starts soon after the injury occurs. Most of the time, some movements are very important to help prevent shoulder injuries while wearing the sling. Once the sling is removed, physical therapy or additional exercises may be prescribed to help regain strength in the muscles, mobility in the joints, and flexibility.

Surgery for a broken collarbone treatment

If the broken collarbone has pierced through the skin, surgery may be needed. Broken collarbone surgery may also be required if the bone has severely dislocated or if it has fractured into many parts. Surgery for a broken collarbone may include the insertion of surgical fixation devices, such as rods, plates, or screws to help hold the bones in place while they heal. Complications rarely occur, but they can include failure of the bone to heal and infection.

Useful Advice

The application of ice or a cold pack to a broken collarbone for the first few days after the injury can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Never apply ice directly to the skin. Wrap it in a thin towel or in a T-shirt.

Outcome & Complications

In most cases, broken collarbones heal over time with proper treatment. If complications occur, they can include:

  • Injury to the blood vessels or nerves. The sharp or rough edges of a broken collarbone can damage nearby blood vessels and nerves. Get medical attention immediately if there are symptoms of coldness or change in sensation, such as numbness or tingling in your hand or arm. 
  • Delayed or poor healing. Severe collarbone fractures may not heal quickly, and sometimes they don’t completely heal. Poor healing can lead to poor alignment, and the bone may be shorter than before. 
  • A lump in the bone. As the broken collarbone heals, a lump or hard knot may form. It is visible because it lies just under the skin. Sometimes these disappear with time, but in other cases, they are permanent. 
  • Bone infection. If a part of the broken collarbone comes out through the skin, it can be exposed to bacteria and become infected. It is critical that these types of breaks be treated immediately.
  • Osteoarthritis. If the broken collarbone affects the joints, the risk of eventually developing arthritis in the joint is increased. 

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