Broken Collarbone

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Last Medical Review: March 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Luis Alberto Vallejo
Clavicle Fracture (March 28, 2020)
Broken collarbone (March 28, 2020)

A broken clavicle hurts and it gets worse as you move your shoulder and arm. The risk of breaking the clavicle is greater in children because they have softer skeletons. Most clavicle fractures heal without treatment and cause no problems afterwards.

Clavicle failure may be due to a stroke or excessive pressure on the clavicle. Children can break the clavicle if they roll against one shoulder.

It may also happen that infants’ clavicles are broken at birth when the baby’s soft skeleton is compressed.


The following symptoms are common if the clavicle is broken:

  • You get swollen over the clavicle.
  • It hurts when you feel the clavicle.
  • It hurts when you move your shoulder and arm.

A child who has broken the clavicle can show it as follows:

  • The child has pain in the arm and shoulder.
  • The child does not want to lift or use the arm.
  • The child becomes sad when you lift them up.
  • The child holds the injured arm still by holding the forearm with the other arm.

When and where should I seek care?

If you think you or your child has broken the clavicle, contact a health center or on-call clinic.

If your child has fallen and does not want to use the arm or is in great pain, immediately contact a health care center or on-call reception. A doctor can then determine if the clavicle or upper arm has been damaged.

If it is closed at the health center or on-call reception, seek care at an emergency room.

What can I do for myself?

Try to relieve the pain by having your arm in a so-called mitella. You can make a mitella yourself by folding a shawl to a triangle and tying it behind your neck. Then the forearm can rest in the fabric just above the waist. The midella acts as a support for the arm, but it does not make the clavicle heal faster. Therefore, you can remove the middle if the child finds it uncomfortable.

A newborn baby who has broken the clavicle is usually sore where the injury is. Try to grasp the lower body and not the armpits when you lift the baby. At the same time, you can support his arm on the injured side so that the arm does not hang down.

Give the child painkillers if needed

You can give the baby non-prescription painkillers containing paracetamol if you notice that they are in pain.

Some tips when the child should shower, sleep and dress

In the beginning, the smallest little movement can hurt very badly. Here’s how you can help your child:

  • Wash the child with a washcloth if they are too sore to shower or bathe.
  • Avoid overly tight clothing.
  • Put on the baby’s sweater on the arm it hurts first. Then thread his head into the ring and last into the other side’s arm. On the contrary, when removing the sweater.
  • Place one or more pillows under the child’s upper arm when sleeping. Then the child is usually more still.

It often hurts less for a child to sit or stand because the injured clavicle changes position when lying down.

Investigations and investigations

The doctor feels his fingers on the clavicles, first over the healthy side and then over the injured side. She also investigates whether the shoulder has been damaged. Then the doctor checks the sensation and pulse because the damage is close to the nerves and blood vessels.

Children who have damaged the clavicle are most often X-rayed to find out where the injury is. Then the child may sit or stand in front of a large one X-ray camera. Newborn babies who need x-rays tend to sit in your or another relative’s arms. The survey does not hurt and as a parent or close relative you can join. You can usually go home as soon as the child has been examined.


For adults it is usually enough to have the arm still for a couple of weeks with the help of a mitella. You get help with physical therapy or other exercise training early after the injury to avoid the muscles getting stiff or weakened. You may need to take painkillers for the first few days. You may need to undergo surgery if the fracture of the clavicle is more complicated.

Neither newborn nor older children usually need treatment for a clavicle fracture, but the injury heals by itself. Children who are over a year usually tend to have a mitella in which the arm can rest.

You should understand the information

In order for you to be able to be involved in your and your child’s care and treatment, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the care staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. For example, you should get information about treatment options and how long you may have to wait for care and treatment.

Children should also be involved in their care. The older the child, the more important it is.

You have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter if you do not speak english. You also have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter if you have a hearing loss.

How does the injury heal?

The fracture of the clavicle heals by forming a new bone between the broken leg ends. Clavicle rupture almost always heals without surgery in both children and adults. Healing is much faster in children than in adults.

A broken clavicle usually heals very well. At first, it may appear or feel like a small edge where the clavicle has been broken. In children it usually disappears completely, but in adults the edge is sometimes left after healing.

Children under ten years usually need to be at home for some time immediately after the injury. Older children can usually go back to school immediately after the accident. It is important to avoid jumping, running, climbing, sports and playing wild games for the first two weeks. After that it is usually good to move as usual again, but sometimes it takes longer.

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