Collarbone Fracture - Diagnosis, Treatment

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Collarbone Fracture - Diagnosis, Treatment
Collarbone Fracture - Diagnosis, Treatment

Video: Collarbone Fracture - Diagnosis, Treatment

Video: Collarbone Fracture - Diagnosis, Treatment
Video: Clavicle Fractures Classification - Everything You Need To Know - Dr. Nabil Ebraheim 2023, December

break of collarbone

The bowl bone (clavicle) connects the breastbone with the roof of the shoulder blade. The most common cause of a break (fracture) of the collarbone is a fall on the shoulder, for example while exercising. Even in a car accident, the impact of the seat belt can cause a broken collarbone. Rare causes are direct blows with an object on the collarbone or indirect trauma from falling on the outstretched hand. The risk of a broken collarbone is higher in adolescents, young adults and the elderly than in the other age groups.


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  • What are the symptoms?
  • First aid
  • How is the diagnosis made?
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  • How is the follow-up treatment carried out?
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

The collarbone is part of the shoulder. There are different types of collarbone fractures. In most cases, the break is in the middle third of the collarbone and - less often - in the outer (distal) third, near the shoulder joint. Fractures in the inner (proximal) third of the bone near the breastbone are very rare. They occur, for example, as a result of a serious traffic accident.

Depending on the severity of the injury, there may be a tear in the collarbone or a complete severing of the bone in one or more places. The broken bones can shift and cause other injuries. Open collarbone fractures are rare.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of a broken collarbone include:

  • Pain in the collarbone area that gets worse when the arm moves,
  • Tenderness,
  • Swelling and bruising,
  • possible step formation (cusp, hump) on the collarbone,
  • Possibly misalignment of the arm and rubbing noises of the broken bone.

During the accident, the patient may have noticed a cracking noise. The patient usually holds the affected arm close to the body in a relaxed position.

Symptoms of a fracture in the outer third of the collarbone are similar to those of an injury to the ankle joint.

First aid

Until medical care is received, it is important to immobilize and fix the arm of the injured side, for example with a triangular cloth and a wide bandage. If possible, arm and shoulder should not be moved. In addition, the affected area can be cooled to relieve the pain. For cooling purposes, a “cool pack” or another cool object is held in place for about 20 minutes.

Warning: ice must not be placed directly on the skin! For example, wrap it in towels. For more information, see: Emergency Injuries.

How is the diagnosis made?

At the beginning, the doctor collects the medical history and asks what happened to the injury. The affected area is then examined for external signs, such as swelling, raised collarbone, etc. The doctor checks whether there is pressure pain and tests the mobility of the shoulder. If a broken collarbone is suspected, various x-rays are taken to determine the exact location and extent of the injury. Additional imaging examinations (e.g. CT, MRI) may be necessary to clarify possible further injuries.

How is a broken collarbone treated?

Treatment depends on the location and extent of the fracture.

  • Conservative therapy: The majority of cases, especially minor fractures with little or no displacement of the bone, are treated conservatively (without surgery). The doctor prescribes medication to treat pain for the patient. The collarbone is stabilized with a special bandage (eg "figure eight sling") and immobilized for a few days to weeks. After a certain time, the doctor can prescribe simple exercises to keep the shoulder and arm flexible.
  • Operation: In the case of severe fractures, the doctor can suggest an operation to the patient to correct the position of the collarbone and fix parts of the bone, for example with elastic nails, plates and screws. An operation is particularly necessary if the broken bone parts can cause damage to vessels, nerves or soft tissues.

In examinations after the acute treatment or operation, the doctor controls the progress of the healing. Ev. further x-ray examinations are carried out.

How is the follow-up treatment carried out?

Depending on the severity of the injury, the doctor will prescribe further physical therapies after a while. The special exercises aim to restore the mobility of the arm and shoulder. The patient is instructed by the physiotherapist to perform the exercises independently.

The doctor informs the patient when the healing process is complete and normal activities and movements can be resumed. For most patients with a broken collarbone, this is the case within three months.

Whom can I ask?

In the event of an injury to the shoulder or if you suspect a broken collarbone, you can contact the following offices:

  • rescue in an acute emergency (emergency number 144),
  • General Practitioner,
  • Specialists in orthopedics and traumatology,
  • Specialists in orthopedics and orthopedic surgery and
  • Accident outpatient clinic in the hospital.

An inpatient stay is necessary for surgical treatment.

Exercise therapy after acute treatment can be carried out on an outpatient basis according to a doctor's prescription, e.g. in the hospital outpatient department or by resident physiotherapists or occupational therapists.

How are the costs going to be covered?

The e-card is your personal key to the benefits of the statutory health insurance. All necessary and appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic measures are taken over by your responsible social insurance agency. A deductible or contribution to costs may apply for certain services. You can obtain detailed information from your social security agency. Further information can also be found at:

  • Right to treatment
  • Visit to the doctor: costs and deductibles
  • What does the hospital stay cost?
  • Prescription fee: This is how drug costs are covered
  • Health Professions AZ

and via the online guide to reimbursement of social insurance costs.