A clavicle fracture, or broken collarbone, is a very common sports injury. It is seen frequently in contact sports such as football, soccer and martial arts. It is extremely common in skiers and snowboarders. A direct blow over the shoulder may cause the clavicle bone to break. Broken clavicles cause difficulty in lifting your arm because of pain, swelling and bruising over the bone.
Minimally or non-displaced fractures usually heal without surgery. However, if the bones have shifted too far out of place (displaced) surgery will usually be recommended. Surgery is performed to align the bone ends and hold them stable during healing. Several large randomized controlled trials have shown t surgery improves shoulder strength and function as compared to non-surgical treatment, for widely displaced clavicle fractures. Surgery for the fixation of clavicle fractures may be considered in the following circumstances:
- Multiple fractures
- Compound (open) fractures
- Fracture associated with nerve or blood vessel damage and scapula fracture
- Overlapping of the broken ends of bone (shortened clavicle)
- Widely displaced fractures
- Elite athletes requiring faster return to sport
Plates and Screws fixation
During this surgical procedure, your surgeon will reposition the broken bone ends into normal position and then uses special screws or metal plates to hold the bone fragments in place. These plates and screws are usually left in the bone. If they cause any irritation, they can be removed later after fracture healing is complete.
Patients with diabetes, elderly individuals and people who make use of tobacco products are at a greater risk of developing complications both during and after the surgery. In addition to the risks that occur with any major surgery, certain specific risks of clavicle fracture surgery include difficulty in bone healing, irritation caused by hardware, possible need for later hardware removal, and numbness in the upper chest just below the clavicle