What is clavicle fracture repair?
A clavicle fracture, also known as a broken collarbone, is fairly common and accounts for about five percent of all adult bone fractures. Most clavicle fractures occur from a fall onto the shoulder or falling on an outstretched arm. A frequent occurrence for athletes, collarbone fractures are seen in patients who participate in contact sports such as football or hockey. Here in the Treasure Valley, many of our patients experience clavicle fractures from skiing or mountain biking. Clavicle fractures can occur anywhere along the bone and in numerous configurations. Historically, most collarbone fractures have been treated without surgery. New studies, however, have shown that in many instances, patients heal better and quicker with surgical clavicle fracture repair – also commonly termed “open reduction and internal fixation”. The orthopedic shoulder specialists at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho use specially-designed plates and screws to fix collar bone fractures properly so that the clavicle heals in its original anatomical position. When allowed to heal in the correct position, and when stabilized by plates and screws, the muscles surrounding the shoulder continue to function normally so that patients heal quicker and are able to return to sports and work sooner than they would otherwise. If a clavicle fracture is allowed to heal in a nonanatomic position, patients may experience early fatigue of their muscles, pain, and cosmetic deformity. Patients in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and the surrounding communities of the Treasure Valley can experience a more predictable outcome in terms of strength and motion after clavicle fracture repair surgery.
How is a clavicle fracture repair done?
Clavicle fracture repair or open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) places the bones back in their original position and allows them to heal in a normal alignment. A surgical procedure called open reduction and internal fixation is a proven successful technique to treat clavicle fractures. During the procedure, the bone fragments are first repositioned (reduced) into their normal alignment. The pieces of bone are then held in place with special metal hardware. Common methods of internal fixation include:
- Plates and screws – The bone fragments are repositioned into their normal alignment and are held in place with special plates and metal screws attached to the outer surface of the bone.
- Long Pin – Also called intramedullary nailing, a long pin is placed in the center of the bone and held in place to allow proper healing of the bone.
Some patients may request to have the hardware (plate and screws) removed, but this will not be performed until the fracture is fully healed; and typically is only necessary if the hardware results in any discomfort.
What is the recovery time after clavicle fracture repair surgery?
Many patients experience improved comfort and function of their shoulder sooner with clavicle fracture repair surgery than they would by letting the fracture heal on its own – particularly if the fracture is displaced, in many small pieces (comminuted), or shortened. Surgery ensures proper alignment and healing of the bone and will allow patients light use of their arm within four to six weeks of their surgery. The use of a sling can be required for two to six weeks depending on the characteristics of the clavicle fracture. Physical therapy is often not required for this type of surgery. Many patients who undergo clavicle fracture repair at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho can expect to return to their normal activities in approximately three months.
For additional information on clavicle fracture repair or to learn if you are an ideal candidate for surgical treatment of a broken collarbone, please contact the orthopedic shoulder surgeons at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho, serving patients in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and the surrounding communities of the Treasure Valley.