Clavicle bone is the scientific or medical name for what most of us know as the collarbone. A collarbone is a prominent bone on both the sides in front of the shoulders, and on top of the chest. This bone is the sole link between the shoulder and the body. Moreover, it protects the nerves and blood vessels running from the neck to the shoulder area. An injury or break in this bone is termed as a clavicle bone fracture. It is quite common. In case, you were looking out for information about it, the text below deals with the treatments available.
Causes of Clavicle Fracture
There are several causes. In some cases, people fall with their hand outstretched, while in other incidents people hit the outside part of their shoulder. In yet another instance, a person can get an injured and fractured clavicle on account of a direct impact on it. In infants and newborn babies, these fractures are normal while they are passing through the birth canal.
There are 2 basic ways for treating a clavicle fracture. One is surgical and the other is nonoperative treatment. Let's take a look at these 2 methods.
A surgery is required in cases where there are multiple pieces of the bone, or there is a penetration in the skin leading to what is called an open fracture. Considerable foreshortening of the collarbone can also require a surgery. An impending vascular and nervous trauma, and nonunion of the bone several months post fracture may also need surgical treatment. The surgery involves open reduction and internal (plate) fixation (ORIF). In this procedure, a titanium or a steel plate is fitted along the superior part of the bone through a number of screws. If the recovery is good, the plate can also be removed post healing of the fracture. This is though rarely required. In maximum cases, the surgical option is not needed, unless the situation is very serious.
The most common and obvious treatment for a clavicle fracture sans surgery is resting the fractured and injured extremity using a sling. Earlier, a brace resembling the figure 8 was in use, specially designed to curb any movement of the shoulder and retract it. It helped to maintain symmetric positioning to aid healing and recovery. Now, a simple sling and painkillers are advised. The brace used earlier was somewhat rendered ineffective. The reason being that the patient already cannot move his shoulder because of the trauma, so such a brace is not necessary. Coming back to the simple sling, once it is in place, the progress is monitored with the help of an X-ray every couple of weeks.
Clavicle Fracture Healing Time
Typically, these fractures require 12 weeks to heal, although the pain decreases as the treatment progresses. The recovery period also depends on the age and overall health of the patient. So naturally, a 20-year-old patient will have a faster recovery than a 60-year-old. Younger patients can return to the normal range of activities even before 12 weeks if proper care is taken. The mantra is to take care, and avoid any activity which might or does aggravate the pain, and stress the affected area. Along with the painkillers once the sling is removed, physiotherapy further helps to get the bone and nearby area back to normal during treatment. A complete union of the bone is generally achieved over a period of time, and full strength is achieved in around 9 months to a year.
A clavicle fracture treatment in most cases is not very complicated. The only glitch is that those who undergo this fracture may feel and observe a bump at the spot of the fracture. However, that is nothing to be worried about. Take care!