A common injury, a broken clavicle (collar bone) can occur easily, because unlike other bones that are covered with muscle, most of this bone is only covered with skin.
The collarbone runs along the top of your chest, from your sternum to your shoulder blade (scapula).
Injuries are frequent in babies during delivery, among children and teens - this is because the bone does not harden (ossify) completely until late teens.
A broken clavicle is also common among athletes, either from sustaining a direct hit on the bone, or from falling - an injury can occur either when you land on your shoulder, or when you put out your hand to arrest your fall.
Symptoms of a break include:
- Shoulder pain
- Difficulty moving the arm
- Swelling and bruising around collar bone
While an x-ray will be used to confirm the diagnosis, once the swelling has subsided the fracture can often be felt quite easily through the skin.
Unless the fracture involves severe displacement or shortening, surgery is not usually required - standard treatment is to rest the area by wearing a sling.
Recovery will typically take around 12 weeks, though many patients are back to full activities before that.