Broken Collar Bone

A broken collar bone, also known as a clavicle fracture, is an injury to the shoulder and occurs most commonly in children under 7 but also in 15-35 year olds who perform contact sports like rugby or who go cycling and risk falling.

What is a Broken Collar Bone?

A broken collar bone, also known as a clavicle fracture, is an injury to the shoulder and occurs most commonly in children under 7 but also in 15-35 year olds who perform contact sports like rugby or who go cycling and risk falling.

Broken collar bones are classified according to the location they occur along the length of the bone.

  • Over 80% of all collar bone breaks occur in the middle third
  • About 5% medial third (the third closest the midline)
  • About 10% distal third (the third closest to the shoulder) 

More severe breaks involve separation or displacement of one side of the break away from the other. The larger the displacement, the harder it is to repair or "reduce" the fracture. Some large displaced broken collar bones may displace so much that they rise and pierce out of the skin and are known as a compound clavicle fractures.

Broken Bone Emergency? You need a shoulder expert!

If you suspect a broken collar bone, it should be treated as an emergency.

If you have sustained a broken collar bone you need urgent professional care to avoid the high risk of sustaining further injury during treatment or to prevent re-injury in the future. Dr Manish Gupta is an experienced shoulder specialist and is available for emergency care.

For emergencies, please call us on 02 9687 9344, or make an online booking to secure an appointment with a professional.

 

 

Symptoms

Broken collar bone may exhibit the following symptoms;

  • Very painful
  • Clicking, cracking and unusual sounds with shoulder movement
  • Loss of shoulder movement, in particular reaching up and across the body
  • Abnormal collar bone shape with possible bump or skin protrusion
  • Strong muscle contraction and spasm of the shoulder
  • Associated swelling and bruising of the shoulder

Causes

A collar bone is susceptible to being broken from a fall injury or due to a direct impact injury. The amount of force required to break a bone decreases with age as bones become less dense and possibly even brittle.

Fall Injury

Falling is a very serious problem and can be sustained while you are moving or stationary and from a low height or from a greater height. The more horizontal the fall on the front of your shoulder, or outstretched arm, the higher the risk of breaking a collar bone. Falling over the front of the handle bars of a bicycle often causes this injury.

Direct Impact Injury

Contact sports like AFL, rugby and NRL where fast moving players are stopped suddenly by impact to the point of the shoulder, or when they are tackled and have their shoulder driven into the ground, risk having their collar bones broken. The more the impact is from the front and down on the shoulder, the more likely it is to break.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a broken collar bone, the orthopaedic consultant will check the patient's;

  • Nature of the injury (sports, work, accident, overuse etc)
  • Cause of the injury (impact, collision, fall, repetitive/slow onset)
  • Context of the suffering (age, return to sport, work, impact on daily living)
  • Perform a physical examination to ascertain pain and range of movement
  • Perform specialised diagnositic tests to confirm diagnosis

Non-Displaced Clavicle

If a collar bone is broken but the ends of the break haven't separated or moved apart, then it is known as a non-displaced fractured clavicle which will be confirmed on X-ray.

Displaced Broken Clavicle

If a collar bone is broken and has separated so that the ends of the break are no longer aligned, then it is known as a more serious injury called a displaced fractured clavicle and can be confirmed on X-ray.

The difference between a non-displaced or displaced clavicle fracture is important. Dr Gupta is a shoulder expert and will be able to help you differentiate your condition.

Treatment

Breaking a collar bone is an emergency condition. Dr Gupta is an experienced Orthopaedic specialist who has treated many athletes and professional clients who have broken collar bones.

Treatment begins with a thorough diagnosis to understand the severity of the condition in the context of your age, your sport, your work and your life to understand what is important to you about your recovery.

Non-Surgical

Fractures of children and non-displaced clavicle fracture may not need surgery. Non-surgical treatment involves the following;

  • Rest and immobilisation in a sling
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Consideration for surgery
  • Physiotherapy rehab protocol

Surgical

Displaced clavicle fractures are indicated for surgery, particularly in severe cases or adult cases.

Broken Collar Bone Reduction: A surgical plate and screws re-align fractured and displaced boney fragments of the collar bone.

Post Op Rehab Protocol

Dr Gupta uses a clinically proven rehabilitation process for each of his operative procedures. Find out more about our clavicle surgery rehabilitation on our Post-Op Broken Collar Bone Reduction Protocol Page.

Broken bones are emergency conditions. If you have sustained a clavicle fracture you need urgent professional care to avoid the high risk of sustaining further injury during treatment or to prevent re-injury in the future. Dr Manish Gupta is an experienced shoulder specialist and is available for emergency care.

For emergencies, please call us on 02 9687 9344, or make an online booking to secure an appointment with a professional.