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Clavicle Fracture in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is a clavicle fracture?

A clavicle fracture is a crack or break in your child's clavicle (collarbone). A clavicle fracture is a common bone fracture in children.

Shoulder Anatomy

What are the signs and symptoms of a clavicle fracture in children?

  • Pain at the clavicle or top of the shoulder, especially with shoulder movement
  • Trouble moving the shoulder or arm
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the shoulder and arm
  • Lump or bulge in the fractured area
  • Deformed clavicle, or clavicle that looks out of place
  • Shoulder slumps down and forward
  • Support of the arm with the other hand to decrease pain

How is a clavicle fracture diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's injury and symptoms. He or she will also examine your child's shoulder and may press gently on the collarbone. The provider may also check the feeling and strength in your child's arm, hand, and fingers. An x-ray, or CT may show the fracture. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the fracture show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is a clavicle fracture treated?

Most broken clavicles heal on their own. It is very important to keep your child's arm still to allow the clavicle to heal properly. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines your child uses to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your child's doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • A sling or brace will be recommended to keep your child's clavicle from moving so it can heal. It will also help decrease pain.
    Shoulder Sling
  • Surgery may be needed to return the bones to their normal position. Pins, plates, and screws may be used to hold the bone together.

What can I do to help manage my child's clavicle fracture?

  • Rest will help your child's clavicle heal. Limit your child's activity as directed. Your child should rest as much as possible and get plenty of sleep.
  • Apply ice on your child's clavicle for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the bag with a towel before you apply it to the clavicle. Ice decreases swelling and pain.
  • Physical therapy may be recommended after your child's clavicle heals. A physical therapist teaches your child exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your child's shoulder, arm, hand, or fingers turn blue or white, or feel cold or numb.
  • Your child's pain is worse, even after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your child's sling feels tight, or he or she has increased swelling.
  • Your child cannot move his or her fingers.

When should I call my child's doctor?

  • Your child's sling or wrap comes off or gets damaged.
  • You have questions about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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