A clavicle fracture is considered as a common fracture that can occur among individuals of all ages. The clavicle is situated between the ribcage and the shoulder blade and connects the arm to the body. The clavicle is positioned above several vital nerves and blood vessels. Nevertheless, these important structures are hardly damaged once the clavicle is involved, even though the ends can move once they are injured. By enrolling in a class on first aid, you can readily manage the symptoms before seeking medical care.
Common causes of a clavicle fracture
The clavicle fractures are often caused by a direct blow to the shoulder. Take note that this can occur during a fall onto the shoulder or a vehicular accident. If the individual falls onto an outstretched arm, it can also cause a clavicle fracture. Among infants, these fractures can occur while passing through the birth canal.
What are the symptoms?
Clavicles fractures can cause pain and make it hard for the individual to move the affected arm. The additional symptoms include the following:
- Sagging of the shoulder
- Inability to lift the arm due to pain
- Grinding sensation when the arm is raised
- Deformity or bump over the break
- Swelling, bruising and tenderness over the clavicle
Diagnosing clavicle fracture
During the assessment, the doctor will ask about the injury and how it occurred. The doctor will examine the affected shoulder. In most cases, there is an apparent deformity at the site. Gentle pressure over the break can trigger pain. The doctor will check the shoulder to ensure that there are no damaged nerves or blood vessels.
An X-ray is ordered to determine the location and severity of the fracture. The entire shoulder is checked through an X-ray to check for additional injuries. In case other bones are involved, the doctor will require a CT scan to check the fractures in better detail.
In case the broken ends of the bones did not shift or move out of place and were able to line up correctly, surgery is not required. A clavicle fracture can heal on its own without surgery.
- Pain medications are usually given such as acetaminophen to help relieve the pain while the fracture heals.
- A simple arm sling or figure-of-eight wrap can be used for arm support as well as comfort after the break. These are worn to provide arm support as well as keep it in proper position while it heals.
- Once the sling is used, it will lead to a loss in the muscular strength in the shoulder. When the bone starts to heal, the pain can subside and the doctor will initiate gentle shoulder and elbow exercises. These exercises can prevent weakness and stiffness. Strenuous forms of exercises can be gradually started once the fracture is fully healed.
The doctor will regularly schedule follow-up checkups until the fracture fully heals. This will involve X-rays to ensure that the bone is healing in the correct position. Once the bone is healed, the individual can gradually return to his/her normal activities.