Hurt in a Cycling Accident? Surgical Repair of a Broken Collarbone

Dr. Kevin Plancher

Surgical collarbone repair offers patients the best possible chances of optimal healing. For cyclists, this means they’ll be back on the road and comfortable again within a matter of weeks.

December 2017 – Avid cyclists experience their share of injuries, but one of the most common may surprise you: A shattered collarbone. Surgical repair of this biking injury to return fast to the sport is also prevalent for a variety of reasons, according to orthopaedic surgeon Kevin D. Plancher, MD, founder of Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.

Collarbone – or clavicle – fractures account for about 5% of all adult fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. But this type of break is even more common among bicyclists for an obvious reason: When they fall off their bike, cyclists often extend their arms to break the fall. The force then travels through the arm to the shoulder, breaking the collarbone, Dr. Plancher explains.

“Located between the breastbone and the shoulder blade, the clavicle essentially connects the arm to the body and lies above several vital nerves and blood vessels,” he says. “Many fractures occur in the middle portion of the bone, but some can shatter the bone in pieces or push pieces far out of place. Individualized treatment should always be considered when a fracture or break occurs with the clavicle.

Diagnosing severity of broken collarbone

If you suspect you’ve broken your collarbone after a tumble off your bike, here’s what you need to know: Pain over the bone is reproducible on touch especially if it is sticking out close to the skin. Other signs and symptoms of a broken collarbone include:

  •     Shoulder sags downward and forward
  •     Pain creates inability to lift arm
  •     Raising arm causes grinding sensation
  •     Deformity or “bump” found over the break
  •     Collarbone area is bruised after 5-7 days

Properly diagnosing a broken collarbone typically involves x-rays and sometimes CT imaging scans, Dr. Plancher says. For uncomplicated fractures – where the broken bone ends haven’t shifted significantly out of place – treatment can include arm support such as a sling to keep…

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