collar bone

My son recently broke his clavicle which is more commonly known as your collar bone.  So I thought I would share some interesting facts about this bone that I discovered.  The name clavicle comes from the Latin version, clavicula, which means "little key."  Apparently, the bone is roughly the same shape as a key for a Roman door lock.

First, let’s locate your clavicle by feeling for a horizontal bone close to your neck curving toward your shoulder. It protrudes out slightly and is pretty hard to miss.  Technically, the clavicle connects the sternum or breast bone to the scapula or shoulder-blade bone.  Since the bone is only covered by skin and not muscle, it’s understandable why it gets broken so easily.

Until my son's injury, the only other experience I had with this type of fracture was from watching the Tour de France.  I love watching this thrilling bike race each year which often includes some bad crashes due to the steep descents and speed at which they ride.  One of the most common injuries to the cyclists was a fractured clavicle.  Amazingly, some of the cyclists would actually try to ride with the fracture.  However, from my son’s experience, I can say it’s pretty painful.

It turns out that clavicle fractures are most common in children and adults under 25 years of age. The break occurs usually during a forceful fall with the arm at the person’s side, often during sports.  I found this very interesting as my son is 8 years old and he broke his by falling while running on a track.  So far he is 2 for 2 in terms of fitting the most common scenarios.  Interestingly, this bone doesn’t fully harden until children reach their early teens, which is another reason it can break in young kids and even infants.

A clavicle fracture is further grouped by locating the break.  The most common is a group I fracture which occurs on the middle third and is very typical in younger people.  Again, this is exactly where my son’s fracture occurred.  A group II fracture happens on the third of the bone closest to the shoulder, and group III fractures are on the third of the bone closest to the center of the body.

My son’s symptoms were pain and restricted movement of his arm.  There really wasn’t much swelling or bruising; however, he was holding one shoulder lower than the other shoulder.  It was the lack of symmetry from one shoulder to the other that had his school nurse and us convinced that he needed x-rays.

The treatment for my son’s injury was a Velcro wrap that goes around his waist and has 2 loops that secure his forearm and wrist so that he holds his arm at a ninety degree angle in front of his body.  I’ve been told that these injuries especially in young children heal very well with minimal treatment.  One of the few side effects is that my son may have a bump where the fracture occurred after healing.  Overall, they think he will be good as new in about a month.