What is a Clavicle Fracture?

A break or fracture of the clavicle (collarbone) is a common sports injury associated with contact sports such as football and martial arts, as well as impact sports such as motor racing or horse riding. It can also occur in the elderly as a result of a fall onto the outstretched arm.

Symptoms of Clavicle Fractures

A broken clavicle may cause pain and difficulty in lifting your arm, and there will typically be pain, swelling and bruising over the bone.

Indications for Clavicle Fracture Surgery

A broken clavicle bone usually heals without surgery, especially in younger patients, but if the bone ends have shifted widely out of place (displaced), surgery may be recommended. Surgery for fixation of clavicle fractures may also be considered in the following circumstances:

  • Multiple fractures
  • Compound (open) fractures
  • Fractures associated with nerve or blood vessel damage
  • Scapula fracture
  • Severe overlapping of the broken ends of the bone (shortened clavicle)

Treatments for Clavicle Fractures

Surgery is performed to align the bone ends and hold them stable during healing. Some of the surgeries are listed below.

Plate and Screw Fixation

During this surgical procedure, your surgeon will reposition the broken bone ends into normal position and then use special plates and screws to hold the bone fragments in place. These plates and screws are usually left in the bone but can be removed after fracture healing is complete if they cause any irritation.

Percutaneous Elastic Intramedullary Nailing of the Clavicle

This is a less invasive procedure and may be considered as an alternative method for fixation of displaced clavicle fractures particularly in adolescents and athletes. It may allow a faster return to sport and other activity but the nail usually needs to be removed before those activities are begun.

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