Based from statistics, hospital admissions of clavicle fracture incidents only account to 5% of all the fracture cases admitted in emergencies. Clavicles, which are simply known as collarbones, are one of the bones that are commonly hurt in our bodies. The middle part is the weakest and softest region so this is where the bones are commonly fractured. Newborns and toddlers are the ones who are most susceptible to this injury because of the soft bones in their body. Newborns are often reported to have clavicle fractures if their mothers have difficult deliveries because the babies’ torsos are overly squeezed out.
Clavicle Fracture Types
Distal Clavicle Fractures. This type of clavicle fracture is divided into five types.
• Type I. The ligaments connecting the clavicle to neighboring bones are fractured but not severely unaffected;
• Type II. The ligaments are ripped from the main bone and only the small trapezoid-shaped fragments remained intact on the lateral bone;
• Type III if there is an over-extension of the clavicle bones;
• Type IV is commonly suffered by children wherein the sleeve of the bone is the one affected so that there is no actual fracturing of the bones; and
• Type V if there is the disruption of the ligaments because of a small cortical fragment.
Proximal Clavicle Fractures. This type of fracture occurs on the main clavicle bone. This is considered a milder injury when compared to the five subtypes of the other clavicle fractures because the proximal clavicle posses good support of ligaments. This means that in the case of fractures, the bones are often not displaced. Non-displaced clavicle fractures can be mended by using a cast or a sling.
Clavicle Fractures Diagnosis
Upon checking for clavicle fractures, the doctor will ask the patient of any history of accidents or falls that he might have suffered. The patient will be asked to describe how the accident happened and the type of pain he suffered afterwards. After this, the doctor will ask the patient to have each of his arms pinned against his side of the body. The patient must support his arm and check if he experiences pain on the opposite hand. Pain can indicate fracture. If there is a clavicle fracture, a deformity can also be an obvious symptom. The doctor will ask for x-rays in order to see the internal injuries of the patient and properly evaluate the alignment and the position of the fracture.
Clavicle Fracture Causes
A clavicle fracture may be the cause of traumas or injuries brought by accidents such as falling, landing on the shoulder or having the torso swung hard forward. Receiving direct blows on the shoulder can also be the cause of clavicle fractures. This may result from wrestling, fighting, car accidents, or any accident blows from high physical sports like football.
Symptoms of Fractured Clavicle
• Feelings of pain and tenderness on the affected area.
• Swelling and abnormal bumps on the injured part.
• The patient may feel the bones like it is poking through his skin.
• The arm and shoulder area may feel numb, sensitive, weak, or tingly
• Having the need to support the injured arm with the other one to minimize the feeling of pain
Clavicle Fracture Treatment
The type of treatment is dependent on the extent and type of injury on the clavicle area. Most clavicle fractures only need time to heal with the patient refraining to do unnecessary movements and activities that may move his hand and the shoulder area. For mild cases of fractures, the doctor may prescribe the patient to have some exercises to speed up the healing process. Medicines can be used to ease the pain but antibiotics or special tetanus injection may be required in cases when the fractures caused tears on the skin.
Using slings or splints are also normally given to those who have clavicle injuries. There are different tools that can help prevent further damage to the clavicle area. Figure-of-eight splints, for example, protect and wrap the shoulders so that the bones are put back on their proper places. Simple clavicle splints, on the other hand, offer more comfort but still supports the area from unnecessary contact. Only severely displaced clavicle bones will need surgery. In surgery, the bones are put back together with the use of screws, plates, and pins.
Since clavicle injuries mainly comes from sports and car accidents, good prevention include wearing protection pads while training or making sure that the car has an air bag that is ready to soften the blow on the chest and shoulder area in case the car crashes.
When to Call a Doctor
Even though most clavicle fractures only need rest to heal, it is still recommended that you visit a doctor after experiencing a blow on the shoulder and chest area. There are cases when the clavicle fracture is so small that it does not create much pain but worsens with time if left untreated by a professional.