What is a Broken or Fractured Clavicle?
The clavicle, otherwise known as collarbone, is the bone that is attached to your shoulder blade and your breastbone (or rib cage). It is part of the shoulder joint that helps provide stability during arm movement. A broken clavicle is a fairly common injury seen among young children and adults. This is because these bones do not become hardened until adulthood. A clavicle injury can be caused because of a direct blow to the shoulder or upper chest by trauma such as car crashes, severe falls or various sports injuries.
Normally the clavicle will break in the middle, but it is also possible for the collarbone to break at the ribcage or shoulder attachment. A brace for the upper chest will protect the clavicle and help the management of the clavicle joint pain. Protection is vital because normally collarbone fractures are non-surgical and need to heal on their own. The only way for collarbone pain to disappear is to let the bone heal in the correct position that braces, slings, and splints offer. Read more about clavicle and collarbone injuries here.
Clavicle Injury Symptoms
Diagnosing a broken clavicle is fairly self-explanatory, as there will be a large bulge next to your shoulder with bruising and/or massive joint pain. If you injure your collarbone you will likely experience these symptoms:
- Extreme pain or grinding feeling when moving your shoulder or arm
- Unable to move or lift arms
- Bruising, swelling, or tenderness of the collarbone
- A deformity or bump if the bone has moved out of position
- The shoulder may look slumped forward and downward
Types of Clavicle Injuries
Group 1 Clavicle Fractures
These fractures consist of being in the middle of the clavicle. This is the most common type of collarbone injury, accounting for about 80% of all clavicle fractures, and can be treated without surgery. A figure 8 clavicle brace would be the best option to heal this type of collarbone injury, which can be found here. The clavicle is simply displaced and is stable because your ligaments are holding your collarbone in place.
Group 2 Clavicle Fractures
This type of fracture is operative and will require surgery. The clavicle is free floating and not connected to your shoulder. This group accounts for about 10-15% of all clavicle fractures. Group 2 further breaks down into 3 types that further determine if you need surgery. If surgery on your collarbone has occurred an arm sling for shoulder surgery would be the best fit.
Group 3 Clavicle Fractures
This group of fractures occurs in the medial portion of your collarbone, meaning the part where it connects to the rib cage. This injury is rarer than the others, accounting for only 5% of all collarbone injuries. Group 3 has a higher rate of serious and long-lasting injury and clavicle pain. If non-displaced, immobilization is the solution and can be fixed with a shoulder immobilizing sling.
Treatment for Clavicle Pain or Fractured Collarbone
Experiencing a broken or fractured clavicle can be very painful and most of the time they are just required to heal on their own. In order to heal properly, it is vital to use a collarbone sling brace. A broken clavicle support brace will cover the entire upper half of your chest and will loop around both shoulders to hold the shoulders back and up. Using a sling for a fractured clavicle will help immobilize and allow the collarbone to heal on its own. It helps to limit twisting and turning of the upper body. This will help speed the healing and recovery process of the broken clavicle, which could take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to heal.
The padded straps of these collarbone braces are fairly wide, making it a great option for clavicle breaks and fractures. Narrower versions are not recommended for such injuries. These wide straps may feel uncomfortable at first but will give you the appropriate level of stabilization that is needed to heal the injury.
Another treatment you may want to use the sling is ice and anti-inflammatory medication. This can help to keep the pain and swelling down when recovering from a broken or fractured collarbone.
If the collarbone injury is serious enough and surgery is required, an arm sling for your shoulder will help immobilize your arm. Usually, surgery for a broken clavicle will only occur if there are torn or damaged ligaments.
Pediatric Clavicle Fractures
Half of all pediatric clavicle fractures occur under the age of seven. To prevent long-term damage, it is vital to let the collarbone heal in the correct position with a pediatric back and shoulder brace. The most common way for the collarbone to get injured is through a fall, which can occur when your child is playing outside or participating in a sporting activity. If your child falls and has bruising around their collarbone, consult a physician and place your child in either an arm sling or a kid's collarbone brace. Not only do these braces work for children and toddlers, but clavicle braces are available to teenagers and youth as well.
Broken Clavicle Treatment and Posture Support
These clavicle braces not only help with collarbone injuries, but they also help to correct your posture by pulling your shoulders back into a proper position. Figure 8 Braces will pull your shoulders backward and help correct the alignment with your back. Posture is extremely important when needing to heal a collarbone injury. They can help limit the side effects of poor posture such as headaches, back or shoulder pain, fatigue, etc.
If you are looking specifically for a posture corrector brace, check out this posture corrector brace. It is designed more specifically to act as a posture trainer rather than a clavicle brace. Wearing a brace that loops around the shoulders and crosses at the back can help you to maintain good posture. It does so by retraining the muscles of the back to hold it in an upright, non-slouched position.