The clavicle (collarbone) can become injured quite easily in athletes, especially those involved in football, basketball, gymnastics and cycling. Many collarbone injuries are caused by a fall or indirectly by impact to the shoulder joint. A clavicle fracture is common in the active population. Even though the injury is so prevalent, no two injures are similar since the clavicle can break in a number of different patterns. Certain patients may experience a simple crack in the bone where both sides of the bone still line up, while other patients may experience a break into multiple fragments, known as a comminution. If a traumatic event causes a patient to experience a clavicle that is completely out of alignment, or if a patient’s fracture does not heal within 10 weeks with conservative measures, Dr. Matthew Provencher may recommend clavicle fracture surgery. A surgical broken collarbone treatment is generally recommended in Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado area patients to restore normal length of bone and alignment in cases of a break into multiple fragments.
A clavicle fracture surgery does not speed up the healing process of a broken collarbone, but it does ensure the bone heals correctly in the proper position. Dr. Provencher usually performs a broken collarbone treatment using an incision over the top of the shoulder joint. He will use the incision to place the damaged bone back in its original position and then place a plate and screws along the top of the collarbone, causing the bone to heal in an anatomically normal, correct alignment. Dr. Provencher may also recommend the use of a long pin in the center of the broken bone, known as intramedullary nailing.
Certain patients may request to have the hardware (plate and screws) removed, but this will not be performed until the fracture is fully healed if the hardware results in any discomfort.
Recovery and Rehabilitation Following Clavicle Fracture Surgery
After clavicle fracture surgery, patients will be required to wear a sling or similar device to immobilize and protect the repaired joint for approximately 4-6 weeks. Dr. Provencher will also prescribe physical therapy protocols that must be followed at all times to ensure a full recovery. It is strongly suggested that patients work with the in-house physical therapists at Howard Head Sports Medicine to optimize their rehabilitation. The physical therapy program will focus on strengthening the shoulder and regaining full motion and function to the joint. Many patients are fully healed and can return to normal activities in approximately three months following surgical broken collarbone treatment.
For additional information on clavicle fracture surgery, or to learn if you are an ideal candidate for a surgical broken collarbone treatment, please contact Dr. Matthew Provencher, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in the greater Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado communities.