Your clavicle, or collarbone, is the only bone linking your shoulder directly to your torso! Fractures of the clavicle are quite common as it requires relatively small amounts of direct force to break. Typically, fractures occur from direct impacts during sports, car accidents, or from falling down. These injuries comprise up to 35% of all shoulder injuries!
Suspected or obvious fractures to the clavicle will result in an x-ray to note location and severity of the break but also to ensure a sharp edge is not angled inward toward vital organs and blood vessels. Usually, these fractures are fixed surgically to ensure good alignment and healing conditions. Physical therapy following a clavicle fracture is strongly recommended to restore normal shoulder mobility and strength while preventing development of a frozen shoulder.
Clavicle Fracture Symptoms
Immediately there will be pain and discomfort. There may be a visible deformity, such as a bump, present on inspection. Bruising and swelling will begin developing and spreading from the local site of the injury and commonly radiate to the shoulder & chest. It will be quite painful to move your arm, especially if the ends of the fractures rub or come into contact with each other. The preferred position of comfort will be with the affected arm pulled in close to the body, usually with the elbow bent and forearm pressed into abdominal area.
Physical Therapy for Clavicle Fractures
If your fracture was nondisplaced (not broken into separate fragments), you are unlikely to need surgery, but physical therapy will be highly encouraged to ensure complete restoration of mobility and function of your shoulder. Your fracture is likely to be healed in 6-8 weeks but you’ll want to be working on addressing the symptoms well before it’s fully healed. Your physical therapist will be able to pace you appropriately with prescriptive exercises and targeted stretches to prevent a “nonunion” of the fracture and possible formation of a “false joint”.
While everyone heals at their own inherent speed, it is typical to be able to resume most daily activities without pain after 6 weeks, and a return to sport participation around 12 weeks.
Post-Operative Treatment for Clavicle Fracture
The strategies and techniques used after surgical fixation of the fractured clavicle are similar to treatment plans without a surgical fixation. Consideration of hardware and bone healing times must be accounted for and if your surgeon has a particular protocol they prefer, we honor their preference with adjustments per patient tolerance and presentation as needed.
If you have suffered a fractured clavicle, call us today to get started on a plan of care that works for you. Ascent Physical Therapy is conveniently located off Sunnyside Road in Happy Valley. We also love treating our neighboring communities of Damascus, Gresham, Clackamas, and Sandy at our top rated physical therapy clinic!