Broken Collar Bone/Broken Clavicle/Fractured Collar Bone

What is the difference between a broken bone and a fracture?

fractured bone is a broken bone – there is no difference.

What is a Broken Collar Bone/Clavicle Fracture?

A broken collar bone is when the long skinny bone connecting the shoulder to the chest breaks into 2 or more pieces (see picture).

What causes a Broken Collar Bone/Clavicle Fracture?

Broken collar bones usually occur due to an accident such as a fall or from sports. 

What are the symptoms of a Broken Collar Bone/Clavicle Fracture?

When a collar bone breaks the person will experience pain. Without surgery the person will have pain with coughing or sneezing or moving for about 3 weeks. Also, without surgery the person will often have a shoulder that is “down and in” (see picture).

How to find out if you have a Broken Collar Bone/Clavicle Fracture?

Both a physical exam by your doctor and an X-ray are needed. An MRI is not usually useful.

How are Broken Collar Bone/Clavicle Fractures treated?

Many broken collar bones are treated without surgery. This involves wearing a sling, getting off all pain medications except Tylenol, and avoiding activities that cause pain.

Some broken collar bones are treated with surgery. Surgery will help decrease the pain a person feels with moving or sneezing or coughing. Surgery also can correct the “down and in” deformity (see picture) back to a normal appearing shoulder. This surgery should be done within ten days after the accident.

Broken collar bone healing usually takes at least 6 weeks. This is true for people who choose no surgery and for people who choose surgery.

Injured shoulder (arrow pointing) "Down and In"

Broken collar bone/clavicle

Fixed collar bone/clavicle

Healed collar bone/clavicle with plate and screws removed