Most clavicle fractures take about 6 to 8 weeks to heal, although pain will subside after 2 to 3 weeks.
- A brace or sling is necessary until a doctor recommends it be discontinued, usually at approximately 6-8 weeks. Return to sports is usually at 8-10 weeks, once strength has been regained in the arm.
- The clavicle fracture heals with new bone formation around the fracture site, which often leaves a bump under the skin. This bump will remodel over the course of the following year and will get smaller, but will rarely disappear entirely.
- Most people with clavicle fractures have an excellent outcome with return to normal activities and a pain-free shoulder at 3-5 months after injury.
- Surgery is not usually necessary for clavicle fractures, but can be recommended for patients with excessive displacement or shortening of the fracture, or if the fracture end is tenting the skin. Recent studies have suggested that patients with excessive shortening or displacement do better with surgical treatment (PubMed). Surgery does decrease the deformity of the fracture, but there will be a scar on the skin. Surgery consists of repositioning the fragments and holding them in place with a plate and screws. For those people who have surgery, the plate is occasionally bothersome, especially in very thin patients. The plate can be removed after complete healing of the fracture (usually no sooner than 6 to 9 months after the surgery).
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.