Clavicle fractures make up approximately 2-3% of all fractures and up to 45% of all shoulder girdle fractures. Typically, clavicle fractures occur more in men. These fractures tend to occur largely in the midshaft of the clavicle (>80% of the time) versus the proximal or distal ends. They also tend to be displaced (the two fractured ends of the bone aren’t lined up well) nearly 50% of the time. They can occur from several injuries to the shoulder: falls onto the shoulder, motor vehicle accidents and other direct impacts.
Clavicle fractures will cause intense pain in the shoulder, cause a decrease in shoulder function mostly due to pain and you could see “tenting” of the skin because the fractured pieces are displaced.
If a minimally displaced or a non-displaced clavicle fracture is found, a non-surgical approach is best. Typically, clavicle fractures heal reliably and quickly on their own. You will wear a sling for several weeks to help take tension off the shoulder and some light medication for pain. Contact sports can be resumed in approximately 7-12weeks depending on signs of healing and x-ray findings. If a displaced clavicle fracture is found, surgical intervention is indicated.
When a displaced clavicle fracture is presented the recommendation is what we call an ORIF (open reduction, internal fixation). This means a surgical incision is made obliquely over the collarbone exposing the two fractured ends. After carefully freeing up the fractured ends, we re-approximate them and screw them in place. We then use metal plates to hold the fracture together forcing the ends to heal and mend back together. This is a reliable surgery which has great outcomes. Someone can resume contact sports in approximately 6-12 weeks depending on x-ray findings and their level of strength regained following surgery. There has to be a good mixture of doing nothing and doing too much during the first 6 weeks of healing so you don’t disrupt the approximated ends from healing.
Please visit this link for more information on clavicle fractures to help determine if this procedure is right for you: http://www.orthobullets.com/trauma/1011/clavicle-fractures?expandLeftMenu=true