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A to Z: Fracture, Collarbone

May also be called: Collarbone Fracture,Broken Collarbone, Clavicle Fracture

A collarbone fracture is a break or crack in the clavicle, or collarbone. It’s one of the most common sports injuries among kids and teens.

More to Know

The collarbone runs between the top of the breastbone (sternum) and the shoulder blade (scapula) and helps connect the arm to the rest of the body. Taking a spill and falling on a shoulder or with arms outstretched puts tremendous stress on the shoulder and collarbone. If the stress is too great, the collarbone can break. Collarbone fractures also can occur from direct trauma to the collarbone during a car collision or other accident.

Symptoms of a collarbone fracture include pain, difficulty moving the arm, swelling and bruising along the collarbone, and possibly a bulge or deformity above the break. The affected shoulder may also sag down and forward. Collarbone fractures are common in contact sports like football and hockey and sports like skiing, soccer, and wrestling where there is a risk of hard falls.

Treatment for a collarbone fracture depends upon the type of fracture and how severe it is. Most fractures can be treated with simple comfort measures until they heal. But fractures where bone fragments on each side of the break are misaligned or where the bone is broken into several pieces (comminuted fractures) may require surgery to ensure proper healing.

Keep in Mind

Most collarbone fractures will heal on their own if the arm is held stable in a sling and the injury is treated with ice and physical therapy. For younger children, healing time can be as fast as 3-4 weeks. For teens, healing time is usually about 6-8 weeks.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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