Clavicle Fracture

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A clavicle fracture is a crack or break in the clavicle (collarbone).

Shoulder Anatomy

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Treatment for a clavicle fracture may cause unpleasant side effects. Medicines may cause you to have upset stomach, vomiting, or stomach ulcers (sores). You may bleed or get an infection if you have surgery or an open wound.

  • If you have surgery, you may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. This problem can be life-threatening.

  • If left untreated, the bones may not go back to how they were before. You may have problems in your arm movement or decreased grip strength. Diagnosing and treating a clavicle fracture as soon as possible is very important. Call your caregiver if you have concerns about your fracture, treatment, or care.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Activity:

It is important to not roll onto the fractured bone while you are sleeping. You may need to rest in a chair or a bed with extra pillows to keep you from rolling onto your injured side. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.

Medicines:

You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.

  • Tetanus shot: This is medicine to keep you from getting tetanus if the fracture also has an open wound. It is given as a shot. You should have a tetanus shot if you have not had one in the past 5 to 10 years. Your arm can get red, swollen, and sore after getting this shot.

Tests:

You may have one or more of the following:

  • Computerized tomography scan: This is also called a CT or CAT scan. A special x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your clavicle. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken. The dye is usually given in your IV. The dye may help your caregiver see the pictures better. People who are allergic to iodine or shellfish may be allergic to some dyes. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish, or have other allergies or medical conditions.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan: This is also called an MRI. An MRI uses magnetic waves to take pictures of the clavicle, chest bone and shoulder areas. During an MRI, pictures are taken of your bones, muscles, joints, or blood vessels. You will need to lie still during an MRI. Never enter the MRI room with an oxygen tank, watch, or any other metal objects. This may cause serious injury.

  • X-rays: You may need x-rays of your clavicle, chest bone and shoulder to check for broken bones or other problems. X-rays of both your injured and uninjured clavicles may be taken.

Treatment options:

  • Ice: A caregiver may use ice on your clavicle to decrease swelling, pain, and redness. Put crushed ice in a plastic bag and wrap it with a towel. Place the ice bag on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as long as you need it. If ice is put on the injured area for too long or if it is slept on, it may cause frostbite.

  • Physical therapy: You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.

  • Arm support: You may need to stay in a sling or splint for a period of time to allow the clavicle to heal.

  • Surgery: You may need surgery to return the bones back to their normal position if your fracture is severe. Surgery may also be needed to fix a clavicle that sticks out through the skin. Pins, plates, and screws may be used to hold the bone together. Further problems, such as an injury to a nerve or blood vessel, may also be treated with surgery.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Clavicle Fracture (Inpatient Care)

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