Collarbone (Clavicle) Fracture: Teen Version

What is a collarbone fracture?

A collarbone fracture is a break or crack in the bone in your upper chest. The collarbone connects your breastbone to part of your shoulder blade. The fracture may be just a bend or small crack in the bone, or the bone may break into pieces or shatter. Some fractures may stick out through the skin.

What is the cause?

A broken collarbone can be caused by a fall or direct hit. For example, it may happen when you fall on your arm and hand or on your shoulder.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • A cracking sound at the time of the injury
  • Pain, swelling, bruising, or tenderness that happens right after the injury
  • Pain when the injured area is touched
  • Trouble moving your arm or shoulder

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and how the injury happened. Your provider will examine you. Tests may include X-rays or other scans.

How is it treated?

Your healthcare provider may put your collarbone in a “figure of 8” brace. The brace will hold your shoulders back (as if you were standing at attention). The brace can help keep your collarbone from moving while it heals. You may also need to keep your arm in a sling.

Your provider may prescribe pain medicine. Broken collarbones can be very painful for the first few days.

Sometimes a broken collarbone needs to be repaired with surgery.

With treatment, the fracture may take 6 to 8 weeks to heal. You may need to do special exercises after the fracture has healed. Ask your healthcare provider about this.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment your healthcare provider prescribes.

To keep swelling down and help relieve pain:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the injured area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time for the first day or two after the injury.
  • Take pain medicine as directed by your healthcare provider.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent a collarbone fracture?

Most collarbone fractures are caused by accidents that are not easy to prevent.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-08-05
Last reviewed: 2013-07-19
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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