What is a Clavicle Fracture?
A clavicle fracture is a break in the collarbone – a flat, long bone in the front of the shoulder that runs horizontally from the base of the neck to the shoulder. Clavicle fractures are common among athletes, especially those at risk for a fall or participating in impact sports. 70-80% of clavicle fractures happen mid-shaft, however not all breaks are the same. The collarbone can break in different patterns, some more complex than others. Breaks vary from a simple crack through the bone where both ends of the fracture still line up to a break containing multiple fragments of bone, referred to as a “comminution.” The term “displacement” refers to how far apart the ends of the bone are after an injury. In severe cases, one end of the bone can poke through the skin causing noticeable bleeding and contamination of the bone and soft tissues. These fractures are referred to as “open” fractures. Shoulder surgeon, Dr. James Mazzara specializes in the treatment of a clavicle fracture for patients in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities.
What is Clavicle Fracture Fixation?
Most collarbone fractures can be treated without surgery and can simply be allowed to heal. With some clavicle fractures, however, the pieces of the bone move far out of place and a clavicle fracture fixation is needed to restore the bones to their original position to allow them to heal correctly. Dr. Mazzara, shoulder surgeon, uses specially designed plates and pins during surgery to help align the bone in cases where comminution is present. Depending on the type of break, Dr. Mazzara may use a long pin in the center of the bone, referred to as intramedullary nailing. Once the bone heals, the hardware may be removed if it results in any discomfort. It is important to note that intramedullary nailing is not appropriate for all clavicle fracture fixation surgeries and Dr. Mazzara will recommend and explain the proper method to be used at the time of consultation.
Are you a candidate for clavicle fracture fixation?
There are two ways to initiate a consultation with Dr. Mazzara:
You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review with Dr. Mazzara.
You can schedule an office consultation with Dr. Mazzara.
What is a Nonunion Repair of the Clavicle?
The term “nonunion” usually describes a clavicle fracture that has not healed appropriately or adequately between 6 and 9 months after injury. Nonunion fractures can also describe a broken collarbone that has healed incorrectly and out of alignment from the pre-injury anatomy.
Patients who have a nonunion clavicle fracture experience pain and impaired shoulder function.
How is a Nonunion Clavicle Fracture Repaired?
The repair of a nonunion clavicle fracture is similar to the surgical technique in a clavicle fracture fixation. Often the surgery involves fixing the clavicle with a plate and screws, plus adding bone graft to aid the healing. If the hardware used in clavicle fracture fixation is visible on the healed bone, it can be removed once healing is complete.
What is the Recovery After Clavicle Fracture Fixation?
Patients are normally able to have clavicle fracture fixation as an out-patient procedure and are allowed to go home the same day. A sling is used to protect the shoulder for 4 to 6 weeks and Dr. Mazzara will prescribe a detailed physical therapy plan designed to regain motion, function and strength. Full recovery from clavicle fracture fixation takes about 12 weeks.
If you need a clavicle fracture fixation or if you’ve had a nonunion collarbone injury, please contact the office of Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities.