Sports Medicine: Clavicle Fractures
What is a clavicle fracture?
A clavicle fracture is a fracture to the bone commonly called the collarbone. Clavicle fractures are one of the most common fractures in sports, and occur most in football and soccer.
What causes a clavicle fracture?
Clavicle fractures are the result of a sudden force placed on the clavicle. This can happen by falling on the shoulder with the arm tucked at the side, falling on an outstretched arm, or a direct blow to the clavicle. Most clavicle fractures occur in the middle one-third of the bone.
What are the symptoms of a clavicle fracture?
Athletes with a fractured clavicle usually support the arm and tilt their head towards the fracture; this lessens the stress on the shoulder. When comparing the injured shoulder to the non-injured shoulder, the injured clavicle may appear slightly lower than the non-injured side. Running your hand gently across the clavicle may reveal swelling, tenderness and mild deformity. The athlete may also recall a “pop” and feel a grinding or clicking sensation with movement.
How is a clavicle fracture diagnosed?
A physician will use a thorough history and physical exam. The physician will also order x-rays to determine the severity of the fracture and to establish a treatment plan.
What is the treatment for a clavicle fracture?
The treatment of a clavicle fracture depends on the severity of the injury. Non-displaced fractures can be treated with immobilization using a sling. This is usually worn for a few weeks allowing the bone to heal. This treatment is most often required for children and teenagers. Surgical repair of the fracture using a plate and screws is seldom required.
What is the long term outlook for a clavicle fracture?
With proper treatment and adherence to the physician’s rehabilitation plan, a full return to activity can be expected.