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What is a fractured collar bone?

A fractured collar bone is the name for a break in the clavicle. Physiotherapy is a very effective way of treating a fractured collar bone.

Therapist perfoming gentle passive mobilisation exercises on the glenohumaral jointAbove: Therapist perfoming gentle passive mobilisation exercises on the glenohumaral joint

How can a fractured collar bone happen?

The collar bone is usually fractured following an impact to the point of the shoulder. The impact can be with a stationary object, such as a wall or the floor, or with a moving object, such as an opponent during a sports match. The collar bone may also be fractured when you fall on your elbow or an outstretched hand if the force of the impact is transmitted along the bones in the arm to the collar bone.

What are the symptoms of a fractured collar bone?

The initial sensation felt when the collar bone is fractured is extreme pain experienced between the bottom of the neck and point of shoulder. You may also hear a snap or crack as the bone breaks. There may be an obvious deformity or bump on the collar bone. This is due to either displacement of the broken ends of the bone or early bleeding and swelling around the site of the fracture. Other symptoms include:

What should I do if I have fractured my collar bone?

A fracture of the clavicle is a serious injury. If you have or suspect you have a fracture of the clavicle, you should immediately go to the nearest accident and emergency department. To help with your pain and reduce and control any swelling you should apply ice to the shoulder. Ideally, this should be in the form of crushed ice wrapped in a moist towel or cloth applied for up to 20 minutes.

Physiotherapy treatment for a fractured collar bone

Following an X-ray at the accident and emergency department the initial management following a fractured collar bone is to rest the arm in a sling for the first few weeks. Following the initial emergency management in hospital the physiotherapists at will be able to provide you with a determination of how long the injury is expected to take to heal and determine an appropriate treatment program. Treatment may include:

What shouldn’t I do if I have fractured my collar bone?

If you suspect that you have fractured your clavicle, you should not perform activities which may cause the broken ends of the bone to move on one another. Therefore, you should not use the injured arm until it has been assessed in accident and emergency. You should also avoid activities which may increase the blood flow to the injured area. These include hot showers, heat rubs, massage and the consumption of alcohol. These may increase the bleeding around the fractured ends of bone and could prolong your recovery.

Could there be any long-term effects following a fractured collar bone?

Most fractures of the clavicle heal without complication in a matter of weeks. A visible bump in the bone may remain after the fracture has healed. This is purely a cosmetic problem that is pain free and doesn’t interfere with the use of your arm. In a small number of cases the broken ends of the bone fail to heal or ‘unite’. If this occurs you may need latter surgery or alternative treatments to stimulate healing.

To arrange a physiotherapy assessment call on 0330 088 7800 or book online today.

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