How common is a broken collarbone?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

By: Jon Henry, MD

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A broken collarbone, or a clavicle fracture, is a common injury especially in children and young adults. The clavicle is the sole bone which attaches the upper arm to the rest of the body. Due to its rigidity, the collarbone can easily break when there is a significant force of impact on the bone. This usually happens when:

  • Attempting to catch a fall with your hands
  • Falling directly on your shoulder
  • Getting hit in the upper body


Common situations include snowboarding and downhill skiing falls, bicycling falls, contact sport falls, and sometimes even with newborns during a difficult delivery.


In most cases, a broken collarbone is not a serious injury; however, consultation with a physician and x-rays are needed to determine the diagnosis and most appropriate treatment plan. Fortunately, most can heal by themselves. Usual treatments consist of temporary immobilization in a sling, protected activities and subsequent strengthening and range-of-motion exercises to recover motion, strength and function.

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