What is a clavicle fracture?

The clavicle, also known as the collarbone, is a horizontal S-shaped bone found between the scapula (shoulder blade) and the sternum. This bone connects the upper limbs and the trunk and transfers forces between the two. A common injury involving the clavicle occurs when a blunt force trauma results in a break of the clavicle bone. Individuals that participate in aggressive contact or high-impact athletic activities have a higher likelihood of experiencing a clavicle fracture; however, the majority of clavicle fractures are predominantly caused by a fall onto the shoulder or an outstretched arm. Clavicle fractures can make performing activities of daily living difficult due to the painful nature of this injury.

What is the treatment for a clavicle fracture?

For patients with minimal displacement (or shift) of the clavicle fracture site often respond well with non-operative treatment alone. It is important to immobilize the clavicle in a sling during the recovery period to prevent any further damage. A physical therapy program with a focus on strengthening the shoulder girdle is also highly encouraged.

However, there are a number of occasions that warrant surgical intervention to repair a clavicle fracture:

  • 1 – Open fracture of the clavicle with wound
  • 2 – Substantial displacement between the fracture fragments
  • 3 – Overlapping of the fractured ends causing clavicle shortening
  • 4 – Cosmetic appearance concerns of the clavicle
  • 5 – Numbness and/or tingling from a compromised nerve.
  • 6 – Desire for early return to athletic activities or sports

The goal of surgical intervention is to connect the bone fragments and return the clavicle to its correct anatomical location. Dr. Ronak Mukesh Patel, orthopedic shoulder doctor, treats patients in Sugar Land, Pearland, and the Houston, Texas area who are in need of a surgical repair for a clavicle fracture.

How is a clavicle fracture repair performed?

A clavicle fracture is repaired through a surgical technique known as open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). His preferred approach involves a dual-plating technique of the clavicle that involves two low-profile (thin) plates. This allows a robust repair of the fracture and lessens the likelihood of plate and screw irritation in the future.  Dr. Patel performs this outpatient procedure with the goal of uniting the bone fragments back into the correct anatomical position. A nerve block may be administered, and a small incision is made over the fracture location. Dr. Patel then performs an open reduction by manually repositioning the clavicle fragments into the correct anatomical configuration. After confirmation of the correct alignment, these bone fragments are fastened together with special plates and screws during internal fixation. The implementation of these medical devices ensures that the clavicle fragments will correctly fuse together. More complex or severe clavicle fractures may require more plates and screws.

Clavicle Fracture Repair | Houston TX

What is the recovery period like after a clavicle fracture repair?

The recovery period following a successful clavicle fracture repair is often based upon the complexity and severity of the injury. Most patients can expect a return to their normal daily activities, including sports-related events, in approximately 3-4 months. The recovery period can be largely affected by a patient’s willingness to comply with the post-operative care instructions set forth by Dr. Patel. Patients in Sugar Land, Pearland, and the Houston, Texas area can expect the following:

  • The clavicle and shoulder are immobilized for 2 weeks following surgery. During this period, only elbow, wrist, and hand motion is allowed. Immobilization is crucial for recovery to protect the clavicle and ensure the bone fragments will fuse properly.
  • Prolonged numbing of the affected arm as the effects of the nerve block can last for several hours following surgery.
  • The key to a successful recovery is active participation and completion of the physical rehabilitation program designed by Dr. Patel. This physical therapy program focuses on strengthening and restoring movement to the repaired clavicle.

Clavicle Fracture Repair Doctor

Have you sustained a clavicle or collarbone fracture? Some clavicle fractures can be treated non-surgically. However, severe fractures, or displaced collarbone fractures require specialized surgical intervention. Clavicle fracture surgeon, Doctor Ronak Mukesh Patel, provides diagnosis as well as the latest surgical treatment options for patients in Houston, Sugar Land, and Pearland, TX who have sustained a collar bone or clavicle fracture. Contact Dr. Patel’s team today!