Injuries to the clavicle (collarbone) and acromioclavicular (AC) joint are among the most common upper extremity sporting injuries. The clavicle attaches to the chest at the sternoclavicular (SC) joint, and to the scapula and arm at the AC joint. Injuries occur with a fall directly onto the shoulder or clavicle, and are frequently seen in mountain biking and contact sports. Clavicle fractures can also occur in older patients with a history of osteoporosis. Most fractures occur in the middle 1/3rd (mid shaft) of the clavicle.
Patients with clavicle fractures will have pain, tenderness, and swelling at the site of the fracture. There is usually a bump at the fracture site, and bruising will occur within about 48 hours. Patients with clavicle fractures will often have pain and weakness with attempts to use the arm on the affected side. Rarely, the fracture can compress blood vessels and nerves, causing numbness and tingling in the arm.
In patients with a suspected clavicle fracture, radiographs are taken in order to see if there is indeed a clavicle fracture.
Most clavicle fractures take about 6 to 8 weeks to heal, although pain will subside after 2 to 3 weeks.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.