Restricting the movement of any broken bone is critical to healing. To immobilize a broken collarbone, you'll likely need to wear an arm sling.
The length of time immobilization is needed depends on the severity of the injury. Union of the bone usually takes three to six weeks for children and six to 12 weeks for adults. If a baby has suffered a broken collarbone during labor and delivery, healing typically occurs without specific treatment. Pain control and careful handling of the baby are usually all that's needed.
To reduce pain and inflammation, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever. If you have severe pain, you may need a prescription medication that contains a narcotic for a few days.
Rehabilitation begins soon after initial treatment. In most cases, it's important to begin some motion to minimize stiffness in your shoulder while you're still wearing your sling. After your sling is removed, your doctor may recommend additional rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy to restore muscle strength, joint motion and flexibility.
Surgery may be required for a fractured collarbone if the bone has broken through your skin, if it is severely out of place or if the bone has broken into several pieces. Broken collarbone surgery usually includes placing fixation devices — plates, screws or rods — to maintain proper position of your bone during healing. Surgical complications are rare, but can include infection and lack of bone healing.
Dec. 06, 2012
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