How to treat a broken collarbone

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A broken collarbone is common especially in children and young adults. The collarbone functions in connecting the upper part of the breastbone to the shoulder blade. A broken collarbone can be caused by falls, sports injuries and trauma caused by vehicular accidents. Infants can also be susceptible to a broken collarbone during the birth process. If a broken collarbone is suspected, seek immediate medical attention, but sometimes a broken collar bone just heals by itself.

Symptoms of a broken collarbone

  • A grinding or crackling sound when moving the shoulder
  • Swelling on or near the shoulder
  • There is pain and stiffness when moving the shoulder
  • There is tenderness, swelling and bruising
Broken collarbone
There is pain and stiffness when moving the shoulder

Causes of a broken shoulders

  • Some sports injuries that can cause a direct blow to the shoulders or an outstretched hand during a fall that will result to a broken collarbone.
  • Falling on his/her shoulder or into an outstretched hand can also result in a broken collarbone.
  • Vehicular accidents like motorcycle and bike accidents can also result in a broken collarbone
  • A broken collarbone can also happen in newborn babies during the birthing process.

There are some complications that can be caused by a broken collarbone which includes the following:

  • The pointed ends of a broken collarbone can harm neighboring nerves and blood vessels. If the individual experiences numbness or coldness in the arms and hand, seek immediate medical help.
  • A severely broken collarbone heals quickly or completely. Poor combination of bones during healing causes the bone to become shorter than it was before the break.
  • During the healing process, a lump can form in the bone and this lump can easily be seen because it is under the skin and they just disappear on their own, but some lumps become permanent.
  • Any part of the broken bone can protrude through the skin and it will be exposed to bacteria and can lead to infections. This requires immediate medical attention.
  • A person with a broken collarbone is in high risk of developing arthritis in the joints.

Treatment and home remedies

  • Put a cloth collarbone brace or Ace bandage that will wrap the underneath of both arms in order to keep the area from moving. A sling can also help to keep the affected areas from moving. If you want to learn how to apply a sling, click here.
  • Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time in order to minimize swelling and pain.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol or Advil in order to minimize swelling and pain. If there is severe pain, seek medical help.
  • Avoid playing sports or activities that might interfere with the healing of the bone. Take note that further injury can worsen the break of a fragile bone which is starting to heal.

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