Skip to Content

Clavicle Fracture


What is a clavicle fracture?

A clavicle fracture is a break in your clavicle (collarbone).

Shoulder Anatomy

What causes a clavicle fracture?

A clavicle fracture is commonly caused by injury or trauma. This usually happens when you fall on your outstretched hand or land on your shoulder. A direct blow to the shoulder may also cause a clavicle fracture. This may occur during a car accident, or in any contact sport, such as football and wrestling.

What are the signs and symptoms of clavicle fracture?

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

How is a clavicle fracture diagnosed?

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

How is clavicle fracture treated?

Treatment will depend on the damage and the kind of fracture you have. Most broken clavicles heal on their own. It is very important to keep your arm from moving to allow the clavicle to heal. You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • 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 you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • A sling or brace will be recommended to keep your clavicle from moving so it can heal. It will also help decrease pain.
  • Apply ice on your clavicle for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice decreases swelling and pain.
  • Rest will help your clavicle heal. Limit your activity as directed.
  • Surgery may be needed to return the bones to their normal position. Pins, plates, and screws may be used to hold the bone together.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your shoulder, arm, hand, or fingers turn bluish or pale, or feel cold or numb.
  • Your pain gets worse, even after rest and medicine.
  • Your splint feels tight, or you have increased swelling.
  • You cannot move your fingers.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

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

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 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 IBM Watson Health

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Clavicle Fracture

IBM Watson Micromedex