The Clavicle is sometimes referred to as the collar bone, and makes up the Shoulder or Pectoral Girdle. The Shoulder Girdle combines the two collar bones and the scapulae bones, which are triangular shaped bones on the back of the rib cage.
The Clavicle along with the scapular connects the arm to the upper body, allowing the arm to swing away from the body. The Clavicle also protects the nerves and blood vessels that travel along the neck to the shoulder area.
Males are usually twice as likely to develop a Clavicle fracture than females. Direct impact injuries and falls are the most common causes of this type of fraction. Many fractures are simple breaks that require minimal treatment and heal uneventfully. Some how, result in dislocation, requiring more aggressive treatment. Surgical intervention may be necessary for severely removed comminuted fractures.
Diagnosis of a clavicle fracture involves history, physical examination and palpation. The patient usually relates a history of a fall or a direct impact to the shoulder area, resulting in severe pain and restricted movement.
Examination usually reveals swinging, tenderness along the shoulder area, with bruising and patient guarding. Range of motion of the shoulder is limited with crepitus. If the patient complains of numbness down the arm, neurovascular compromise may have occurred.
Routine x-rays usually will indicate the location and severity of the Clavicle fracture. The type of fraction usually dictates the type of treatment. If the fracture is displaced, the doctor may manipulate the clavicle back in place, under anesthesia. More severe fractures and dislocations may require surgical intervention.
If the injury is acute, ice should be applied to the area immediately to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation. The shoulder / arm complex should be immobilized in a sling type of brace to prevent any further movement. Appropriate pain medication is prescribed to reduce the pain and swelling.
Early range of motion and physical therapy is recommended to prevent shoulder adhesions and to restore normal function. A shoulder brace may be utilized after the injury to protect the clavicle area and prevent a reoccurance.
It is important that you consult with a physician before attempting any treatment for a Clavicle fracture. Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the chances of complications that can prolong the pain and disability from this common fraction.