Fractured Clavicle (Collar Bone)
Many of us sustained one of these as a child. Most likely we were given a sling and/or put in a clavicle strap that pulled our shoulders back.
Even though often we did not follow the doctor’s instructions (we were kids) healing proceeded uneventfully and in 4 weeks we were back on the field and our bikes.
For generations, clavicle fractures in adults have been treated similarly to children, and most of them healed uneventfully but with a much longer more protracted course. Instead of a few weeks, 10 to 16 weeks was more common, within a significant associated disability for most of that time.
Probable because the standard treatment was nonoperative, there was no hardware (plates and screws) designed specifically for these fractures, but more generic hardware was modified.
Happily, about a decade ago, dedicated clavicle fracture hardware was developed, and the surgical treatment was revolutionized.
Studies from major trauma centers confirmed the high Union (bone healing) rates with these fractures in a much shorter time and a much-reduced duration of impairment because the fracture was stabilized once the hardware was placed.
Now, most adult clavicle fractures that meet certain criteria associated with a protracted healing process are best treated with surgical stabilization.