Clavicle Fractures

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Clavicle fractures account for five to 10% of all fractures. Also referred to as a broken collarbone, clavicle fractures commonly result from sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents and other types of trauma in which the shoulder experiences a direct blow. Not only are clavicle fractures painful, they can restrict the range of motion of the arm and make daily activities difficult to perform.

At OrthoAspen our elite-grade orthopedic shoulder and elbow experts are dedicated to getting you back to your active lifestyle. We’re here to help our patients navigate through the diagnosis, treatment and recovery of clavicle fractures so they can return to what the love—as quickly and safely as possible.

Causes & Symptoms

Although typically more common in children and young adults, clavicle fractures can happen to anyone. Usually, when an individual falls directly on the shoulder or his/her outstretched arm is subjected to enough pressure, the bone snaps or breaks. This results in any number of symptoms, which include:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Bruising and tenderness around the collarbone
  • Sagging of the shoulder
  • Appearance of a bump over the site of injury
  • Difficulty or inability to lift the arm due to pain
  • Grinding sensation/feeling when the arm is lifted
  • Decreased range of motion of the shoulder and arm

Typically, any of the previously mentioned symptoms will identify the presence of a clavicle fracture. Your OrthoAspen specialist may also request diagnostic imaging to accompany a physical examination, such as X-ray images to pinpoint the area of damage.


A broken clavicle bone usually heals without surgery. If, however, the bone ends have shifted out of place, surgery will be recommended.

Your OrthoAspen physician will most likely recommend surgery if a patient displays:

  • Multiple fractures
  • Compound (open) fractures
  • Fracture associated with nerve or blood vessel damage and scapula fracture
  • Overlapping of the broken ends of the bone (shortened clavicle)

When performing a surgical procedure, your OrthoAspen surgeon will reposition the broken bone ends into their normal position. Special screws or metal plates are then incorporated to hold the bone fragments in place. These plates and screws are usually left in the bone. If they cause any irritation, they can be removed after the fracture has fully healed.

In some cases, placement of pins may also be considered to hold the fracture in position (the incision is smaller in pin-placement surgery). Since pins often cause irritation in the skin at the site of insertion, your OrthoAspen physician will remove them once the fracture heals.

As with any surgery, individuals with diabetes, elderly individuals and people who make use of tobacco products are at a greater risk of developing complications—during and after the surgery. In addition to the risks that occur with any major surgery, there are specific risks of clavicle fracture surgery which include difficulty in bone healing, lung injury and irritation caused by hardware.

At OrthoAspen, it’s our goal to find the best option to promote the quickest and safest treatment possible. The end result of any non-surgical or surgical procedure is to help you safely return to your active lifestyle.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our OrthoAspen experts to assess a potential clavicle fracture or shoulder injury, you can start by clicking here or call us at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400