Broken Collarbone Recovery Time

Your collarbone is connected to your shoulder joint and holds it together. It connects to the shoulder blade and your AC joint to make it strong and stable. The collarbone is responsible for protecting blood vessels and nerves in your neck and shoulder area. A break in collarbone can occur with contact sports like football, hockey, and wrestling. Fractures in this area are most common in younger males aged 13 to 20 and small children can even sustain a fracture while they are playing.

What Is Broken Collarbone Recovery Time?

A broken collarbone can take months to heal with or without surgery. People who have health conditions or certain lifestyle habits may need longer to heal. The most common broken collarbone recovery time is about 3 months after the injury occurs. It really depends on how severe your injury was. Children may heal much faster in about 3 to 6 weeks and adults need 6 to 16 weeks to heal.  

The important thing is to keep up with follow-up appointments so your doctor can re-check the injury and tell you when you are fully healed. Depending on the stability of the shoulder joint, they may advise you to avoid lifting or using the arm for longer after you have healed. If you do too much too quickly, you may have to start your healing time all over again.

It is important to understand that everyone is different. The recovery period can be different for each case. The doctor will tell you that you can return to your normal activities when you can demonstrate the following:

  • Ability to move your shoulder and arm with no pain
  • An x-ray shows there is no longer a fracture in the area

You shouldn’t try to use your arm too soon before you have fully healed. This can cause the collarbone to “re-fracture.”

What Can Be Done to Hasten Broken Collarbone Recovery?

If you injure your collarbone, you will be evaluated by a doctor. They will ask about how you injured your shoulder and the doctor will take a look. During the exam, the doctor will look for a bump on the collarbone. If the fracture site is pressed, there is severe pain. A broken collarbone will often look like a “tent” where the bone is pushing up.

You will most likely be sent for an x-ray or CT scan to look at the fracture. Depending on the severity of the injury, the doctor will decide the best treatment for a quick broken collarbone recovery time. The following video shows 5 tips for pain relief and recovery from someone who recovered from a broken collarbone:

Full treatment options include either non-surgical treatment or surgical treatment, as described below:

Nonsurgical Treatment

If your doctor decides that the injury/fracture isn’t too severe and the bones will heal without surgery, the different nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Pain Medication – You will most likely be told to take a pain reliever or prescribed a pain medication to help you in during your healing period. Anti-inflammatories will help will swelling.
  • Support – Your doctor will most likely suggest an arm sling to keep the arm and shoulder stable. This helps right after you fracture the bone to help keep the bones lined up and support your shoulder.
  • Therapy and ExerciseYou will spend some time in an arm sling in the beginning and this can cause muscle atrophy. When your pain level goes down, your doctor may suggest therapy to start doing some exercises to your shoulder to help reduce stiff muscles and increase strength. You may continue with therapy after your fracture heals to build up more strength in the arm and shoulder.
  • Doctor Care – Regular doctor appointments will help your doctor monitor the healing of your collarbone. The doctor will check your shoulder and arm and most likely do some follow-up x-rays. They will let you know when you are ready to return to work or sports.
  • Complications – If you try to do too much, you may displace the fracture. There can also be a buildup of bone fragments that cause a condition known as “malunion.” Some people also develop a bump at the fracture site that may be permanent.

Surgical Treatment

A displaced collarbone fracture may need surgical repair. This will help line the bones back up and keep them stable during the broken collarbone recovery time. It also preserves the muscle strength in the shoulder joint. Types of repair include:

  • Pins
  • Screws/Plates
  • Therapy

Pins

For a simple displaced fracture, the surgeon can place pins just to hold the bones together during healing. This surgery uses a very small incision and the pins are taken out after the bone has healed together.

Screws/Plates

This is for more complicated collarbone fractures where there may be fragments of bone in different places. The surgeon puts all the pieces back in the right place and then uses metal plates and screws to hold it all together. There is a small bump and numb area under your surgical incision. This is the location of the place. The plate and screws are left in and can sometimes irritate the area. Your doctor may or may not choose to remove the plate after healing.

Therapy

After surgery, you will need therapy to help increase strength and range-of-motion to the shoulder joint. This will start with very gentle exercise and increase as you tolerate more movement. Therapy can be slow and go on for a long period of time to prevent injury.

Final Note:

Make sure you see your doctor and get follow-up x-rays to check the progress of your recovery. As we already learned, broken collarbone recovery time isn’t short and there are ways to fasten it. Rarely, a broken collarbone does not heal and may need repeated surgeries and treatments. If the fracture is severe and the bones fragment, it may be complicated to put things back together. The good news is, they don’t always need surgery and will heal on their own with time and patience. Talk to an orthopedic surgeon to see what the best course of treatment would be for you. 

 
 
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