The collar bone is a long bone that is part of the shoulder. When it is injured, it is most likely the middle section that cracks or breaks. A broken collar bone is also called as fractured clavicle.
Usual Cases for Broken Collar Bone Injury
This case usually happens to injured athletes or to babies who broke their collar bones upon passing the birth canal. The collar bone only definitely solidifies when a person already reaches 20 years old which makes kids’ collar bones more delicate and fragile. For athletes, a fall can damage not only the elbow and the shoulder but also the collar bone as well when the impact of the fall will break the clavicle. Rehabilitation or Rehab is necessary.
Symptoms of Broken Collar Bone Injuries
You need to spot these symptoms immediately in order to consult a doctor so as not to worsen the crack or the break especially when it has a wound in compound fractures.
• Pain coursing through your body whenever an arm is raised
• Sagging or slumping shoulder
• Bump on the fractured area
• Grinding feeling when an arm is also raised
Nonsurgical Treatments to Heal Broken Collar Bone
In most cases, broken collar bone healing does not usually include surgery.
• Sling and figure-of-eight brace: These are under the immobilization category. A sling can be used to keep your arms from moving. There is a difference in the broken collar bone healing time between a child and an adult. A child will only need the sling for three to four weeks while an adult has to bear the sling for six to eight weeks. Thus, if you would ask how long does a broken collar bone take to heal, there are still a few factors to consider. Aside from a sling, the figure-of-eight brace may also be used depending on the extent of the break of the collar bone. This immobilization treatment only supports the natural healing process of the bones by keeping them in their normal positions.
• Bone reduction: This is another immobilization treatment. This aims to align the broken bone in its correct position and correct alignment can be checked by looking at the xray of the collar bone. However, this is a painful procedure that may require anesthesia. A fiberglass or plaster cast can be used to align the fragments correctly. When the swelling subsides, a removable brace can be used.
• Buddy wrapping: This is applicable for fractures in fingers and toes instead of casting them. The broken bones will only have limited movement that will help pursue anatomical alignment while the callus formation will continue developing for faster healing.
• Pain management: This requires taking some pain medication. Ibuprofen is already proven effective in relieving pain especially when you take it together with codeine and acetaminophen. Aspirin as an anti-inflammatory medication also works.
Surgical Treatment For Fractured Collar Bone
When it seems like the nonsurgical treatments or the conservative methods still do not work, surgical treatment may be your last resort. There are some risks that you need to face when you are to undergo surgery. Here are some surgical treatments.
• Bone grafting is one of the treatments that you need to consider.
• Implants would use metal to reinforce broken bones. However, you might expose yourself to stress shielding which is triggered when the plates are the ones pressured to carry much of the bone’s load.
• Osteostimulation or electrical stimulation can also be tried but results do not necessarily show its effectiveness.
When to Go for Surgical Treatment For Collar Bone Fracture
Since surgery is risky, the patient is first advised to take the nonsurgical treatments. However, there are certain fractures and cases that already require surgery.
• Open fracture: This is when the broken bone cuts through the skin. The bone might have repeatedly poked through the skin and went back in but still, this will expose you to infection caused by grads, dirt, and other debris. Surgery should be done to stop infection from ever happening.
• Fractures near the A/C joint: These are slowly healing fractures, which is why surgery could be a better alternative. You should first discuss your options with your doctor. There might be another way to treat such kind of fracture aside from surgery. This is also a rare occurring type, as it has only been experienced less than ten percent of those who have had fractures.
• Non-union: This is the case when even after weeks of treatment, the bones have not yet aligned to their original positions. This will case discomfort and pain. Thus, a surgery would be needed to realign the bones, held by screws and plates, so that they will grow back together then.