A broken collarbone is clinically called a clavicle fracture, which may occur commonly in people of all ages. The clavicle is situated above various important nerves and blood vessels. However, these vital structures are rarely damaged when the clavicle fracture occurs, even though the bone ends may move when they are fractured.
Dr. Steven Thomas and Dr. Gregory Bigler are board certified orthopedic surgeons providing treatments for clavicle fracture and various other procedures. Patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding communities have an opportunity to receive treatments from Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler.
Causes and Symptoms
A direct blow to the shoulder is a common cause of clavicle fractures. This may occur during a vehicle collision or a fall onto the shoulder. Sometimes a clavicle fracture may also be caused due to a fall onto an outstretched arm. Babies may suffer from these fractures during the passage through the birth canal.
Persistent pain, which may make it difficult to move the arm, is a key symptom of clavicle fractures. Some of the other symptoms may include:
- The shoulder is drooping down and forward
- Arm cannot be lifted because of pain
- Grinding sensation if an attempt is made to lift the arm
- A bump or deformity over the break
- Tenderness, bruising, and swelling over the collarbone
Surgery may be avoided if the broken ends of the bones have not moved and are aligned correctly. In such cases, the broken collarbone will heal without surgery. A simple arm support such as a sling or wrap may be used for comfort immediately after the fracture. These supports will keep the arm in position while it heals.
Pain medications, including acetaminophen, can be used to help relieve pain as the fracture heals. While the patient is using the sling, the muscle strength in the shoulder is likely to weaken. Once the bone starts to heal, the pain will reduce and the surgeon may begin gentle elbow and shoulder exercises. More strenuous exercises may be progressively started as the fracture is completely healed.
If the bones are displaced, surgery may be necessary. Surgery will align the bones precisely and hold them in position while they heal. Shoulder strength will improve as the patient recovers after surgery. Metal plates and screws may used to provide support internally, and will usually be left in place after the bone has healed.
Pins may also be used to hold the fracture in safe position after the bone ends have been replaced in the right position. Pin placement will require smaller incisions than those used for plates. However, pins usually irritate the skin and will be removed once the fracture has healed.
Following the treatment, specific physical exercises will help to restore movement and provide strength to the shoulder. The surgeon may provide the patient with a home therapy plan or recommend working with a physical therapist. Established board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler, who have performed magnificent work in the past, receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas for clavicle fracture treatments.
If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. call (702) 933-9393; Physical Therapy (702) 933-9394