Bone injuries: Dealing with a fractured clavicle

A broken or fractured clavicle is a prevalent form of bone injury. It typically occurs after falls or sustaining direct injuries to the shoulder. Among adults, it takes about 6-8 weeks to heal while 3-6 weeks among children.

A doctor should be consulted right away if you suspect that the clavicle is injured. Upon reaching a healthcare facility, an X-ray is taken to confirm a fractured clavicle and treated using a sling or brace.

Signs and symptoms of a fractured clavicle

A fractured clavicle can cause intense pain along with the following symptoms:

  • Bruising to the skin
  • Tenderness or swelling around the injured area
  • In rare instances, bleeding occurs if the bone damaged the skin and tissue.
    Fractured clavicle

    The shoulder might slump in a downward and forward manner due to the weight of the arm since the fractured clavicle no longer provides support.

  • Pins and needles sensation or numbness if the nerves in the arm are damaged.

The shoulder might slump in a downward and forward manner due to the weight of the arm since the fractured clavicle no longer provides support. Additionally, there is also a grinding or snapping sound during the injury.

Immediate first aid care

While waiting for a doctor, you have to stabilize the arm with a towel that serves as a sling. Encourage the individual to move the affected area as little as possible.

Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be given to minimize the pain.

An ice pack can be applied on the injured area. An alternative is a bag of frozen peas that is wrapped with a cloth or towel. This can help minimize the swelling and pain.

Management

In most cases of a fractured clavicle, the injury is left to heal naturally with a simple triangular sling to provide support to the arm as well as hold the bones together in their normal positions.

The sling is typically applied in a healthcare facility after an X-ray confirmed a fractured clavicle. Pain medications are also given for pain relief.

Surgery under general anesthetic is only performed if the injury is severe such as bone that pierced through the skin or if the bones did not line up and overlap significantly.

Various techniques are utilized to repair the clavicle but the most common involves repairing the break using a plate and screws.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a fractured clavicle is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage broken bones including a fractured clavicle by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.

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