Skip to Content

Clavicle Fracture In Children


What is a clavicle fracture in children?

A clavicle fracture is a crack or break in the clavicle (collarbone). A clavicle fracture is the most common bone fracture in children.

Shoulder Anatomy

What causes a clavicle fracture in children?

A clavicle fracture in children is commonly caused by injury or trauma. Most injuries occur when a child falls on his outstretched hand or lands on his shoulder. A direct blow to the shoulder may also cause a clavicle fracture. This may occur during a fight, a car accident, or in any contact sport, such as football or wrestling. Clavicle fractures may also occur during a vaginal delivery when the baby passes through a narrow birth canal.

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

Your child may have pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, or a bump in the injured area. The bones may poke through the skin, not look normal, or look out of place. The shoulder and arm may feel weak, numb, and tingly. He may also have trouble moving his shoulder and arm. Your child may need to support his arm with his other hand to decrease the pain. A newborn baby may not move his arm freely on the affected side. The caregiver may feel a lump or roughness in the newborn's clavicle.

How is a clavicle fracture in children diagnosed?

  • X-rays: Your child may need x-rays of his clavicle, chest bone, and shoulder to check for broken bones or other problems. X-rays of both his injured and uninjured clavicles may be taken.
  • CT scan: A CT or CAT scan uses an x-ray machine with a computer to take pictures of your child's clavicle. He may be given dye in his IV before the pictures are taken. The dye may help your child's caregiver see the pictures better. People who are allergic to iodine or shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may be allergic to some dyes. Tell your child's caregiver if he is allergic to iodine or shellfish, or if he has other allergies or medical conditions.
  • MRI scan: An MRI uses magnetic waves to take pictures of your child's clavicle, chest bone, and shoulder area. He 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.
  • A bone scan takes pictures of your child's bones. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell a healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is a clavicle fracture in children 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. The younger your child is, the faster the fracture will heal without further problems. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Medicines: Medicine may be given to ease your child's pain. Your child may also need antibiotic medicine or a tetanus shot if there is a break in the skin.
  • Splint or sling: There are several types of slings that may be used to keep a broken clavicle still and prevent further damage. A figure-of-eight splint wraps around your child's shoulders to keep them back. His arm may also be placed in a simple clavicle strap for support and comfort.
  • Supportive therapy: Ice packs may be used to decrease swelling, pain, and redness. Physical therapy may be needed once swelling and pain are gone to help your child heal faster. Exercises that increase range of motion may be done as the pain decreases. This helps to bring back the strength and power of your child's shoulders and arms.
  • Surgery: Your child may need surgery to return the bones to their normal position. 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.

What are the risks of a clavicle fracture in children?

Medicines may cause your child to have nausea, vomiting, or stomach ulcers. He may bleed or get an infection if he has surgery or an open wound. If left untreated, the bones may not heal properly. Your child may have problems with arm movement or decreased grip strength.

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 caregivers 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.

© 2015 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.