Signs of a broken bridge
Clavicles get fractured relatively frequently. If someone falls on the shoulder, the force can create a break at either the sternum, joint, or midpoint. Signs of a collarbone fracture include pain, stiffness, and swelling. Persons will also get tenderness, bruising, and bulging on or near the shoulder. Snapping or cracking in the shoulder area is another indicator of a fracture. More importantly, someone with a broken clavicle will have difficulty raising the arm or moving the shoulder.
The surprising way to treat clavicle fractures
Anyone suspecting a broken collarbone should see a doctor right away. Doctors can treat most cases non-surgically, especially mid shaft breaks. Healing of a fractured collarbone requires immobilization. The length of the immobilization period depends on the gravity of the injury. Doctors will outfit a sling or figure-of-eight bandage, depending on the location of the break. Cold therapy using ice packs can help reduce swelling. Furthermore, over-the-counter medication and NSAIDs can be used for pain management.
Going under the knife
Physical therapy generally occurs soon after the initial treatment to minimize long-term stiffness and discomfort during the healing process. After the removal of a sling, additional rehabilitation can restore flexibility and muscle strength. For more severe breaks, like bones broken through the skin, or severe displacement, surgery is required. The surgeon will need to put the damaged bone back in place. The surgeon then uses a combination of screws, plates, and rods to hold the bone in place. Based on the injury, the surgeon will advise on which type of surgery will be best. There will be a follow-up session to remove the material.
Bridging the collarbone gap
Once the patient gets the proper treatment, the healing process can start. Complications are rare and may include infection or improper healing. On the bright side, collarbone breaks heal quite quickly. Age and the extent of damage determine the speed of healing. Typically, children heal in 3-6 weeks. Adults, however, range from 4-12 weeks. With the right care, medication, and physical therapy, persons should be back to normal in no time.
Act quickly for quick healing
Doctors can treat most clavicle fractures without surgery. The most significant goals would be to keep the bone in place and to manage pain. If done right, collarbones don't take long to heal, compared to other fractures. In as little as 4 weeks, the splint can be removed. Anyone experiencing a fall, injury, or collision and suspecting a fractured collarbone should see a doctor immediately.