Clavicle Fracture

Clavicle Fracture

A clavicle fracture, or broken collarbone as it is also known, is a fracture of the clavicle bone. The clavicle runs along the front of the shoulder to the breastbone or sternum in the middle of the chest and can be fractured by a fall. The fracture normally happens towards the middle of the bone but can also happen near the shoulder. The pain will be intense and medical help is needed immediately.

Clavicle fracture

A clavicle fracture will usually have happened as a result of a fall onto the shoulder or an outstretched arm. The main symptom is a pain in the collarbone which may be severe. There could be swelling over the area and a bony deformity may be felt.

Causes & anatomy

The collarbone or clavicle is the bone that runs along the front of the shoulder to the breastbone or sternum at the front of the chest. It is usually fractured as a result of falling badly onto an outstretched arm or onto the shoulder itself or in a collision with an opponent in a contact sport such as Rugby or American Football.

The likelihood of injury is increased if the playing surface is particularly hard.

The bone usually fractures in it’s middle third and is very painful. The outer part of the bone often gets pushed down with the inside part displaced upwards.

A distal clavicle fracture where the bone breaks nearer the shoulder at the acromioclavicular joint occurs in approximately 15% of injuries. These fractures take longer to heal and are more prone to nonunion.


If you suspect you have a broken collarbone then seek medical assistance or a doctor immediately. An x-ray will confirm the fracture. The arm will then be immobilized with either a figure of eight bandage, sling or collar and cuff. A figure of 8 bandage is designed to prevent the collarbone shortening as it heals and is usually preferred to the sling.

Pain relief is the main aim in the early stages and a doctor will usually prescribe pain-relieving medication. After a period of complete immobilization (1-2 weeks), the arm should then be gently moved to prevent shoulder stiffness. In particular, shoulder flexion exercises to 90 degrees which means moving the arm from the side up to horizontal in front.

Rehabilitation will involve regaining full range of motion using mobility exercises and stretches, as well as ensuring strength is not affected. The injury is likely to take 4 to 6 weeks to heal. You should not do any sports or even running until it has properly healed. You may, however, be able to cycle on a stationary bike.

Surgery is not usually required for fractures of this type. Open fractures where the bones pierce the skin or non-union of the bones after 6 weeks are more likely to require surgical intervention.

Clavicle contusion

A bruised collarbone is also known as a clavicle contusion and occurs after a direct impact to the collarbone at the front of the shoulder or chest. Shoulder pain and swelling are common symptoms, which can be eased by rest and icing the area. It is important to check and monitor the injury to make sure it is not a fracture and that there is no ligament or nerve damage.

Bruised collar bone symptoms include pain at the front of the shoulder following a direct impact to the bone. The collarbone will be tender to touch with swelling sometimes developing quickly and bruising usually appearing later. Lifting the arm up is likely to cause pain or discomfort.


Rest from all painful activities. Apply ice or cold therapy products to ease the pain, bleeding, and inflammation. A sling may be used to take the weight of the arm off the clavicle. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to ease pain and inflammation.

If a fracture is suspected an X-ray should be taken to rule this out. The AC joint should also be checked to ensure there is no disruption of the ligaments there. Ensure there is a strong pulse and no altered sensation at the hand to rule out nerve or blood vessel damage. A simply bruised collarbone should heal naturally within 1-2 weeks.

Clavicle muscle attachment inflammation

The Clavicle, or collarbone, has a number of muscle attachments along its length. The tendons that attach the muscles to the front of the shoulder and collarbone can become painful and inflamed through overuse. This injury is particularly found in athletes who do a lot of throwing, such as cricketers. Read more on the symptoms and the treatments of this injury below.


  • Pain and stiffness along the collarbone.
  • Pain that radiates into the front of the neck.

Who is affected by this injury?

A number of muscles (including pec major) attach to the collarbone (via tendons) from above into the neck and below into the chest. These tendons can become inflamed through overuse. This injury is more common in cricket bowlers and throwers.

Treatment of Muscle inflammation at the Clavicle

What can the athlete do?

  • Rest and apply ice
  • See a sports injury specialist or Doctor.

What can a sports injury specialist do?

  • Apply sports massage and stretching techniques.
  • Apply ultrasound treatment.
  • Prescribe a rehabilitation and strengthening programme.
This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.