During the physical exam, a health care provider inspects the area for tenderness, swelling or an open wound. X-rays show where the break is, how bad it is and whether the joints are injured. A CT scan might give more-detailed images.
For healing, any broken bone must be kept still. People who have a broken collarbone usually need to wear a sling. Bone healing usually takes 3 to 6 weeks for children and 6 to 12 weeks for adults.
A newborn's collarbone that breaks during delivery typically heals in about two weeks with only pain control and careful handling of the baby.
A pain medicine that you can buy without a prescription might be all that's needed to ease pain. Some people might need a prescription medicine with a narcotic for a few days. Because narcotics can be habit-forming, it's important to use them for only a short time and only as directed by a health care provider.
Exercises to restore movement begin soon after treatment starts. It's usually important to begin moving to lessen stiffness. Later, other exercises or physical therapy can help the joint move better and build muscle strength.
Surgery might be needed if the collarbone has broken through the skin, is out of place or is in several pieces. Broken collarbone surgery usually includes using plates, screws or rods to hold the bone in place while it heals. Surgical complications are rare but can include infection.
Children and teenagers younger than 16 rarely need surgery because they heal more quickly than adults do.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Applying ice to the area for 20 to 30 minutes every few hours during the first 2 to 3 days after a collarbone break can help control pain and swelling.
Preparing for your appointment
Depending on how bad the break is, your health care provider or a provider in the emergency room might recommend a surgeon who treats bone injuries, also called an orthopedic surgeon.
What you can do
It might be helpful to write a list that includes:
- Details about symptoms, what caused the injury and when it happened.
- Information about past medical problems.
- All medicines, vitamins and dietary supplements you take, including doses.
- Questions to ask the health care provider.
What to expect from your doctor
Your provider might ask:
- Have you broken a bone before?
- Have you been told you have weakened bones?