The clavicle is the medical term for the collarbone. It is the bone that runs from your shoulder to your breastbone. A clavicle fracture is a crack or break in this bone. You can have a clavicle fracture if you fall on your shoulder or get hit directly on the collarbone.
You may need to wear an arm sling for several weeks to stop your arm from pulling on the broken bone. The sling rests on the opposite shoulder and supports the weight of your arm on the injured side. Sometimes a “figure-of-eight” dressing is used. This pulls your shoulders back to make sure the bone heals in the right position.
You may need surgery if your injury is serious.
For pain, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol), ibuprofen (brand name: Motrin) or naproxen (brand name: Aleve). Keep in mind that children should not take aspirin. Aspirin can cause a serious illness called Reye's syndrome in children younger than 18 years of age. If your pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe prescription pain medicine.
Ice or cold packs can help reduce swelling. Some over-the-counter pain relievers (called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs) can also help with swelling. Ibuprofen and naproxen are examples of NSAIDs.
Clavicle fractures usually take about 6 weeks to heal. Avoid contact sports (such as basketball and football) while the fracture heals. You can start using your arm again as soon as you have less pain (usually in about 2 to 3 weeks). Starting physical therapy a few weeks after the injury may also help it heal.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff