The clavicle or collarbone is an S-shaped bone that sits between the shoulder and the breastbone horizontally across the upper part of the chest. It is an essential part of the skeleton that connects the arm to the body and functions to support the shoulder and lift the arm.
What is a clavicle fracture?
The clavicle is the most broken bone in the human body accounting for about 5-10% of all adult fractures and 7%-15% of children and young adults. It can be a very painful injury that impairs the ability to move the arm.
Most clavicle fractures occur in the middle of the bone but there are multiple types of clavicle fractures. Some fractures are simple hairline fractures that require a sling and rest. Other clavicle fractures may have multiple breaks along the bone and even protrude through the skin requiring immediate surgery. The type of break will determine the treatment options.
Clavicle fractures are classified two ways:
- A displaced fracture is one where the ends of the broken bone are no longer lined up properly.
- A non-displaced fracture is where the ends of the broken bone are still lined up properly.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include sharp pain, swelling and bruising around the collarbone injury, a bump may be present where the fracture is pushing against the skin, and limited range of motion. Movement generates a painful, grinding sensation.
What causes a clavicle fracture?
Most clavicle fractures occur from a direct blow or fall to the shoulder. When caused by a traumatic event like mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and horseback riding the bone may protrude from the skin (an open fracture).
How is a clavicle fracture diagnosed?
Dr. Harrison will ask about how the injury occurred and your symptoms. He will examine your shoulder. During his examination he will perform tests to detect damage to the soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. He will order x-rays to identify the exact location of the break, and check of other injuries. A CT scan may be ordered to assess the fracture for preoperative planning.
Dr. Harrison will discuss treatment options with you.
Dr. Harrison is a board-certified fellowship trained orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery. He is the Head Team Physician for the United States Alpine Ski Team, the Chief of Sports Medicine at McKay-Dee Hospital, and the Head Team Physician for Weber State University for over 20 years. Dr. Harrison completed his undergraduate degree at Baylor University and received his medical degree from the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He completed his orthopedic residency at the University of Utah followed by a fellowship in sports medicine at the Cincinnati Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center and finished with an additional AO Trauma Fellowship in Bern, Switzerland.
At a Glance
Dr. Jeffrey Harrison
- Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Orthopedic Surgeon
- Head Team Physician US Women's Alpine Team and Weber State University
- Performs over 800 surgeries per year
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