T Nation

Broken Collar Bone


I broke my collar bone last weekend mountain biking. I went to the doctor and he is giving me a choice of surgery or just letting it heal on its own. He is slightly recommending letting it heal on its own and says that I shouldn’t lose any function in my shoulder/arms. If I let it heal on it’s own there will be a decent bump after it heals, but I’m really not concerned about how it looks.

I would just let it heal on its own, but I am concerned that the misalignment (it is stacked vertically and about 1 cm overlapped) may cause pain later in life. I’m 26 and do a lot of skiing, mountain biking, and lifting.

Is the clavicle a bone that is likely to cause problems with my shoulder later in life or does it really not matter if it is somewhat misaligned?

looks pretty bad, bet that hurt. i would go with sergury

If you have the choice, I’d go surgery.

I’m not a Doc or in the medical profession, but I did break both collarbones 11 years ago (multiple fractures in each, all at the same time) and they were too busy keeping me alive to consider surgery. Instead they used a ‘figure 8’ elastic brace-thingie (arms go thru the holes, it crosses in the back, tension pulls the shoulders backwards to kinda align them). By the time I was stabalized the broken bone ends got ‘sticky’ and started to heal (takes about a week from what I remember) so the collarbones were left to heal on their own.

I have ‘overlaps’ (which makes ‘bumps’) and one shoulder droops noticeably (makes my neck look like it’s tilting to the other side), but it’s only noticable if one looks. I get some ‘clicks’/etc. now and then when using the arms/shoulders. Nothing painful or the like.

I lift weights normally (but comparatively light compared to average T-Nationers, tho that’s because of my age - 54 - and years of inactivity after the accident, which means a long time to acclimate my old and damaged frame to lifting heavy).

The only problem I’ve noticed is when I started to ramp up my lifting after about 4 months of acclimating, I got an ache where one of the broken spots healed with an overlap. The best explanation I have is that the bone healing point was being stressed (my muscles got in shape faster than the bone healing point) so I backed off for a few weeks then slowly increased the weights/activity.

That was a year ago and no problems since, so I think the bone caught up with the soft tissue strength-wise. I could be wrong with my self-diagnosis, but a lifetime of moderately hard physical jobs has taught me pretty well how to listen to my body and figure out what’s wrong, and it didn’t seem like a muscle/tendon/etc. problem). It also seems logical.

You only have a week or so (if my memory serves me) before your bone ends get ‘sticky’ and start to heal on their own, so don’t take too long to decide. I have no idea if it’s feasible for surgery after the bones start to heal on their own. If you find anything out on this, let me know please.

Good luck, and if you have further questions let me know.

I have had both sides broken and I would want it realigned with it that far out of position. I can’t even tell the exact point on either side where the break occurred.

If my experience is anything to go by, go for the surgery.

I broke mine about a decade ago and the doctor said thre’s no sense in aligning it or anything, just put my arm in a sling for a month. It healed fine, I didn’t even take any painkillers past the first day, but now my left collarbone is crooked, has a bump on it, and is a few centimeters shorter than the right.

It doesn’t cause any problems in life but I can’t do bench presses or flies and I don’t quite have full range of motion in my left shoulder. The most I’ve ever tried benching was 45 kg (a hair under 100 pounds) - got maybe four reps, gave up, and had bad AC joint pain for a few days. I also have to limit the ROM on overhead presses - if I go below the nose I end up with pain, though a lot less than from the bench press.

Floor presses and pushups are OK. With rowing or pulling movements there’s no problem at all. I have to seriously limit weight on overhead squats because of the shoulder ROM.

I also got bad shoulder pain from playing a replica of a medieval fiddle once. But according to official documents from the Polish military I am “deformed without handicap” - I’d say that’s accurate.

What are the possible down sides of the surgery? Seems like they’d just be making a hole to realign the bone then closing the hole up… wam bam thank you mam. Seems low risk to me. But maybe there’s more to it I’m not thinking of.