Use it or lose it
In extreme cases, surgery can be necessary to fix a broken collarbone. When the damaged bone moves too far, surgeons work to move the collarbone to the correct position, placing screws to keep the bone stable throughout the healing process. Patients will typically wear a sling while healing from a broken collarbone, with or without surgery. After a few weeks of downtime, kicking off a daily exercise plan, even while wearing a sling, helps restore function and mobility. Gentle movements such as the pendulum and the tower expand the shoulder area while building back important injury-preventing muscle.
Begin each stretching session with the pendulum, allowing the arm to hang passively while relaxing the shoulder muscles. Move the upper body in a swaying motion, and the arm will move along with the upper body’s motion, creating a gentle stretch. When performed correctly, the patient feels slight tension in the shoulder. The exercise can be performed 2-3 times a week for up to 4 minutes at a time.
Take a long bath towel in hand, draping the opposite end over the shoulder and down the back. Use the nonimpacted arm to pull the frozen shoulder upward to create a gentle stretch in the side or front shoulder. Hold the position for 2-3 seconds at a time, repeating up to 10 times per week. Then, using the healthy arm, lift the impacted arm to a surface about waist-high. While standing, bend the knees to open up the armpit, gently stretching the frozen shoulder before straightening. With each bend, sink deeper into the stretch.
A balanced lifestyle before and after breaking the collarbone raises the likelihood of a fast recovery. Enough sleep, staying hydrated, and minimizing stress help the body heal a broken clavicle. What’s more, foods rich in calcium, iron, and fiber regulate the digestive system while giving the body vital building blocks needed to repair broken bones.
No sling? No problem
While many Americans suffer from collarbone fractures, physical therapy empowers patients to recover mobility and range of motion without surgery. Daily stretching before attempting surgical intervention allows patients to strengthen the surrounding muscles. In cases of surgery, a robust treatment plan in the weeks after the procedure must include a comprehensive physical therapy roadmap. In many cases, gentle consistent movement, even done in a sling, restores range of motion, no surgery needed.