What is the collarbone?
The collarbone (clavicle) is one of the main bones of the
shoulder joint . It holds the shoulder up and, along with the shoulder blade
acromioclavicular (AC) joint, provides stability and
strength to the shoulder. The collarbone also protects nerves and blood vessels
from the neck to the shoulder.
What causes a broken collarbone?
A broken collarbone is usually caused by direct contact to the collarbone or to the outside of the shoulder.
This often occurs when playing sports such as football, wrestling, or ice
The collarbone is one of the most commonly broken (fractured) bones. Young men ages 13 to 20 break it
most often. Younger children have greater chances of a broken collarbone during
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a broken collarbone include:
- Immediate pain after falling or being hit on
the collarbone or in the shoulder area.
- Inability to raise the
affected arm because of pain.
- A grinding feeling when trying to
lift the affected arm.
The affected shoulder does not always appear out of position. But
if a deformity is present, it appears as a bump or swelling along the
collarbone or at the AC joint. The bone rarely breaks through the skin. But it may
push the skin out, causing it to have a tent-shaped look.
A broken collarbone usually is not a serious injury. In rare
cases, a broken collarbone can injure a lung or rib or pinch nerves or blood
vessels. This may cause the arm to turn pale, tingle, and feel cool or
How is a broken collarbone diagnosed?
Your doctor can usually diagnose a broken collarbone by asking
you questions and examining you. Your doctor will check:
- The affected area and look for a lump or
- Blood flow, by taking your pulse and checking your skin color
- For damage to your nerves and blood
- How well you can move your shoulder and other
- The muscle strength of your shoulder.
Your doctor will usually do an
X-ray to pinpoint the location and severity of the