Broken collarbone

A broken collarbone is a common injury, particularly in children and young adults. Your collarbone connects the upper part of your breastbone to your shoulder blade. Common causes of a broken collarbone include falls, sports injuries and trauma from traffic accidents. Infants can sometimes experience a broken collarbone during the birth process.

If you think you or your child has a broken collarbone, seek prompt medical attention. Most broken collarbones heal well with ice, pain relievers, a sling, physical therapy and time. But a complicated broken collarbone may require surgery to realign the broken bone and to implant plates, screws or rods into the bone to maintain proper alignment during healing.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Signs and symptoms of a broken collarbone include:

  • Pain that increases with shoulder movement
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • A bulge on or near your shoulder
  • A grinding or crackling sound when you try to move your shoulder
  • Stiffness or inability to move your shoulder

When to see a doctor

If you notice any of the signs or symptoms of a broken collarbone, or if you have enough pain in your shoulder that you can't use it normally, see a doctor right away. Do the same for your child. Delays in diagnosis and treatment of a broken collarbone can lead to poor healing.

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