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.
How long immobilization is needed depends on the severity of the injury. Bone union usually takes three to six weeks for children and six to 12 weeks for adults. A newborn's collarbone that breaks during delivery typically heals with only pain control and careful handling of the baby.
To reduce pain and inflammation, your doctor might recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever. If you have severe pain, you might 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 might recommend additional rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy to restore muscle strength, joint motion and flexibility.
Surgery might be required if the fractured collarbone has broken through your skin, is severely displaced or is in 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, though rare, can include infection and lack of bone healing.
Oct. 23, 2015
- Clavicle fracture (broken collarbone). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00072. Accessed Sept. 30, 2015.
- Hatch RL, et al. Clavicle fractures. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 30, 2015.
- Peters MDJ. Surgical versus conservative interventions for treating broken collarbones in adolescents and adults. Orthopedic Nursing. 2014;33:171.
- McKee-Garrett TM. Neonatal birth injuries. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 30, 2015.