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Definition

A clavicle fracture is a break in the collarbone. It connects the breastbone to the shoulder.

Distal Third Clavicle Fracture
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Causes

This injury is caused by trauma from:

  • A fall onto the shoulder
  • Falling on an outstretched arm
  • A motor vehicle accident

Babies can also get this injury from passing through the birth canal.

Risk Factors

Things that can raise your risk are:

  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Playing contact sports
  • Having a health problem that may result in falls, such as nerve problems

Large babies are at greater risk during birth.

Symptoms

Symptoms may be:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Problems moving the arm
  • A change in the way the shoulder looks
  • A lump on the shoulder

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. The doctor will also ask how the injury happened. An exam will be done that will focus on the shoulder.

Images may be taken of your shoulder. This can be done with:

Treatment

It may take three to ten weeks to heal. Newborns and most children do not usually need to have the pieces of the bone put back in position unless the broken ends are very far apart. Options may be:

The goals of treatment are to manage pain and support the bone as it heals. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain
  • A sling or brace to keep the shoulder in place as it heals
  • Exercises to help with strength and range of motion

Children's bones have growth plates that let bones grow and harden with age. A child with a fracture may need to be checked over time to make sure the bone heals the right way and keeps growing.

Surgery

Some people may need surgery. Pins, a plate, or screws may be used to hold the bones in place as they heal.

Prevention

Most fractures are due to accidents. They cannot be prevented.

RESOURCES:

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
http://www.sportsmed.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://www.aaos.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

REFERENCES:

Clavicle fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/management/clavicle-fracture-emergency-management. Accessed September 24, 2019.

Murray IR, Foster CJ, et al. Risk factors for nonunion after nonoperative treatment of displaced midshaft fractures of the clavicle. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2013 Jul 3;95(13):1153-1158.

Shoulder trauma (fractures and dislocations). Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/shoulder-trauma-fractures-and-dislocations/. Updated September 2007. Accessed September 24, 2019.

Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM  Last Updated: 9/24/2019