A clavicle fracture is a break in the clavicle bone (also called the collarbone). It connects the sternum (breastplate) to the shoulder.
The clavicle can fracture in three different places:
Distal Third Clavicle Fracture
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A clavicle fracture is caused by trauma to the clavicle bone. The trauma is usually caused by:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease, condition, or injury.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured area will be examined.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment may involve:
Most clavicle fractures can be treated either with a figure-of-eight strap, which is wrapped around the body and the shoulders, or with the arm in a sling. These devices help hold the shoulder in place while the clavicle heals. The doctor may prescribe pain medication.
Surgery may rarely be needed to set the bone. The doctor may insert pins or a plate and screws in the bone to hold it in place while it heals. You will still need to wear the sling or figure-of-eight strap while you heal.
When your doctor decides you are ready, start shoulder range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. You may be referred to a physical therapist to assist you with these exercises. Do not return to sports activity until your clavicle is fully healed.
To help prevent clavicle fractures:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Clavicle fracture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated June 2009. Accessed July 21, 2009.
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Lenza M, Belloti JC, Andriolo RB, Gomes Dos Santos JB, Faloppa F. Conservative interventions for treating middle third clavicle fractures in adolescents and adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Apr 15;(2):CD007121.
Shoulder trauma. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00394. Accessed July 15, 2008.
Stegeman SA, de Jong M, Sier CF, et al. Displaced midshaft fractures of the clavicle: nonoperative treatment versus plate fixation (Sleutel-TRIAL). A multicentre randomised controlled trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2011 Aug 24;12:196.
Vander Have KL, Perdue AM, Caird MS, Farley FA. Operative versus nonoperative treatment of midshaft clavicle fractures in adolescents. J Pediatr Orthop. 2010 Jun;30(4):307-312.
8/20/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ : Joshi N, Lira A, Mehta N. Diagnostic accuracy of history, physical examination, and bedside ultrasound for diagnosis of extremity fractures in the emergency department. Acad Emerg Med. 2013 Jan;20(1):1-15.
Last reviewed August 2013 by
Michael Woods MD
Last Updated: 8/20/2013