Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, missed his 7th consecutive game today with a broken clavicle. Clavicle fractures (aka collarbone) are the most common broken bone (other than fingers and toes) that we see in sports medicine. For the longest time, a clavicle fracture was with a sling or maybe even a figure-8 brace, but surgery was rarely recommended. Recent research has cast some doubt on that treatment, and we are seeing many more clavicles being fixed.
But why? If you broke your collarbone on the football field, falling off your bike, or in a car accident, you’d get a sling and after about 6 or 8 weeks, it would feel better and you could gradually return to activities. You would probably have an ugly bump but you wouldn’t have many symptoms going forward.
But that’s not always the case. A large study from Europe showed that if you underwent surgery to fix a broken clavicle, the fracture was more likely to heal, you were less likely to have pain in the future and of course, less likely to have a deformity (or big ugly bump). Of course, you trade the bump for a scar, you can have some numbness, and there is a small risk for infection.
There might be even better news. Another study recently published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine showed that some athletes could return to sports less than 6 weeks after surgery for a broken collarbone.
Still, most broken clavicles don’t need surgery and will heal perfectly fine on their own. But their are certain fracture patterns and patient populations that would benefit greatly from surgery.
Make an appointment with us and we’ll evaluate your shoulder and your xrays and give you the best options for your clavicle.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!