A broken collarbone is also known as a clavicle fracture. This is a very common fracture that occurs in people of all ages.
The most common fracture about the shoulder is of the clavicle, frequently the result of a fall onto the shoulder. These fractures can be quite painful and cause difficulty in moving the arm. Classically, treatment has been non-operative. Treatment can be a simple sling or a “figure 8” strap, worn for three to eight weeks, depending on one’s pain. Once healed, there may be a bump over the fracture site which may decrease with time, but sometimes a deformity may remain permanently. Range of motion can begin as soon as pain subsides; return to sports cannot occur until full shoulder strength returns. Return to contact sports would be considered only when the fracture is fully healed on X-ray. Recently, surgical treatment of these fractures has been reconsidered. Surgical treatment options may include plates and screws or even a rod placed into the bone. The consideration of these treatment options depends upon one’s activity level and the dominance of arm use, i.e. a right-handed athlete with injury to the right clavicle versus an older individual not engaged in “overhead” activities.