The clavicle is a bone on either side of your neck, and is commonly referred to as the collarbone. It connects your sternum, or breastbone, to your shoulder.
Doctors use the terms fracture and broken bone to mean the same thing. Most people think of a fracture as being a broken bone where the ends still line up; whereas, a true break occurs when the 2 ends do not line up. Even if doctors use different terms to describe this condition, if you are told you have a fracture it means you have a broken bone.
A fracture or broken bone involves a partial or total crack through a bone. The break in a bone usually occurs as a result of an impact injury, such as a fall or blow to the shoulder. Shoulder fractures most often involve the clavicle or the collarbone.
The diagnosis of a fractured or broken collarbone is made on the basis of the symptoms present and the results of x-rays of the painful area:
- A broken collarbone most often causes immediate pain in the area of the break.
- Some people report hearing a snapping sound.
- The affected shoulder appears to sag (moves downward and forward).
- Inability to raise the arm because of pain.
- If the clavicle is gently touched along its length, pain is usually greatest at one point, locating the break.
- A ""bump"" can be felt over the fracture site.
- Often a crunching or grinding feeling, crepitus, can be felt when trying to raise the arm.
- The skin over the break often bulges outward and can be discolored a reddish-purple, indicating an early bruise.
When a fracture occurs, the doctor tries to bring the bones into a position that will promote healing and restore arm movement. If someone's clavicle is fractured, he or she usually wears a strap and sling around the chest to keep the clavicle in place. After removing the strap and sling, the doctor will prescribe exercises to strengthen the shoulder and restore movement. Surgery is occasionally needed for certain clavicle fractures.
If you think that your collarbone may be fractured, you should immediately seek medical care.
People with shoulder pain have also found these products to be effective: