A clavicle fracture is more commonly known as a broken collarbone. People of all ages can get a clavicle fracture, though it’s particularly common in children and young adults. It is often very painful and can make moving the arm or shoulder difficult, making daily activities nearly impossible. Serious complications can also occur with a broken collarbone. That’s why you should see one of the experienced and highly-trained shoulder specialists at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for treatment of a clavicle fracture before it has a negative impact on your life.
The collarbone (also called the clavicle) is the bone that connects the breastbone to the shoulder. A broken collarbone (also called a clavicle fracture) is when this bone breaks. The clavicle is one of the most fractured bones in the body, making up about 5% of all bone fractures. Teenagers and children are at higher risk than adults, typically occurring in those younger than 25. That’s because the collarbone doesn’t completely harden until around age 20. Because they are most likely to play high-impact sports, young men and teenage boys are at the most risk for clavicle fractures. Men are nearly 3 times more likely to sustain a clavicle fracture than women.
ABOUT THE CLAVICLE
There are two clavicles, long, slender, S-shaped bones that run horizontally between the top of the breastbone (sternum) and the shoulder blade (scapula). By serving as a strut to the shoulder, it helps keep the arm in the right position for overhead activity and allows the muscles to be under the correct tension to maintain strength. The clavicle is the first bone to start to ossify in the fifth week of fetal life and the last to conclude the growth through its growth center as late as age 25. It is a very prominent structure with only skin and “supraclavicular” skin sensory nerves crossing its surface. That’s why the clavicle can be felt by touching the area between the neck and shoulder.
WHAT IS A CLAVICLE FRACTURE?
A clavicle can crack in one place or break into several pieces (comminuted fracture). The broken pieces may still line up or end up out of place (displaced fracture). Clavicle fractures are divided into three types based on location:
- Near the sternum (breastbone)– the least common
- Near the AC joint (the AC joint is where the clavicle bone meets the big bone behind the shoulder that also forms part of the shoulder joint)—second most common
- In the middle of the shaft of the bone, approximately halfway between the sternum and the AC joint—the most common
Even if the broken bones aren’t perfectly lined up, the body can usually make them straight again. That’s because the collarbone has a thick outer layer that doesn’t break and acts like a sleeve to hold the bone together while it heals.