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A clavicle fracture is a break in the clavicle bone (also called the collarbone). It connects the sternum (breastplate) to the shoulder.
The clavicle can fracture in three different places:
- Middle third—the middle portion of the clavicle, which is the most common site for a clavicle fracture
- Distal third—the end of the clavicle connecting to the shoulder
- Medial third—the end of the clavicle connecting to the sternum
A clavicle fracture is caused by trauma to the clavicle bone. The trauma is usually caused by:
- Direct blow to the clavicle
- Falling on an outstretched arm or on the point of the shoulder
- Newborn babies can break a clavicle passing through the birth canal
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease, condition, or injury.
- Advancing age, because of the increased risk of falling
- Certain congenital bone conditions
- Participating in contact sports
- Large newborns have a higher risk of fracture during birth
- Pain, often severe
- Sagging shoulder, down and forward
- Inability to lift the arm because of pain
- A lump or visible deformity over the fracture site
- Tenderness and swelling of the affected area
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured area will be examined.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment may involve:
- Putting the pieces of the bone back in position, which may sometimes require anesthesia and more rarely surgery
- Keeping the pieces together while the bone heals itself
- Newborns and most children do not usually need to have the pieces of the bone put back in position unless the broken ends are very far apart
Brace or Sling
Most clavicle fractures can be treated either with a figure-of-eight strap, which is wrapped around the body and the shoulders, or with the arm in a sling. These devices help hold the shoulder in place while the clavicle heals. The doctor may prescribe pain medication.