According to a report, clavicle fractures account for around 2.5% of all fractures and if we talk about all shoulder fractures, more than 40% are reported to be clavicle fractures. 

Children between 13 and 20 years of age and adults are more prone to breaking their collarbone because of trauma. 

Most cases of clavicle fractures do not require surgical intervention for the treatment as conservative methods are enough for healing. While on the other hand, invasive treatments become necessary when the fracture is severe. This post will discuss collarbone fractures in detail along with their diagnosis and treatment. 

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What Are Clavicle Fractures?

A clavicle fracture is an orthopedic condition characterized by a broken collarbone. This is the bone located in the shoulder and connects the scapula to the breastbone. Such fractures often occur because of trauma and may limit the movement of the affected side of the shoulder. These fractures are most common during childhood and children may experience the same when they fall onto the lateral shoulder. A thorough diagnosis is required to get the right treatment for the fracture. 

What Are the Symptoms of Collarbone Fractures?

Intense pain is experienced when there is a fracture in the collarbone, and it becomes worse with the movement. Along with this, the person will also experience swelling, tenderness, or bruising on the injured shoulder. A bump may also be noticed on or around the shoulder. 

The skin over the shoulder may also break and when the shoulder is moved, the person will hear grinding or pinching kind of sounds. 

In severe cases, the person will not be able to move the injured shoulder. If the shoulder is mobile, the pain will be there with the movement. 

Newborns will not move the affected arm for many days and will cry if someone tries to do so.

What Are the Causes of Clavicle Fractures?

Clavicle fractures occur because of traumatic injuries like falls, car accidents, or sports injuries. If we talk about children, they may break their collarbone with falls onto the lateral shoulder or with an outstretched hand. While on the other hand, a direct blow to the shoulder may also break the collarbone. 

Motor vehicle crashes and collisions with fellow players while playing contact sports may also result in clavicle fractures. The severity of the condition will depend on the intensity of the impact caused during the accident. 

Newborns face such fractures at the time of birth. 

How Collarbone Fractures Are Diagnosed and Treated?

Diagnosis of clavicle fractures includes a physical examination to see visible signs and imaging tests like X-ray and CT scan to confirm the severity and the pattern of the fracture. 

Most collarbone fractures do not require surgery as they heal with conservative treatments that include immobilization with the help of a sling along with medication to improve pain and inflammation. Physical therapy is also required to bring back the range of motion of the shoulder and ensure quicker and better recovery. 

It might take 3-6 weeks in children and 6-12 weeks in adults for the fracture to heal. In newborns, healing takes place on its own in around 2 weeks. 

If we talk about surgery, then it is required in severe cases with a significantly displaced broken collarbone and conditions with open wounds like open fractures. Orthopedic plates, screws, or rods will be required to stabilize the broken bone fragments in their correct anatomy. 

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