Broken collarbone in adults
You have a fracture in the collarbone (clavicle). The position of the bones is good and the fracture should mend properly. The treatment consists of wearing a sling, having a short rest period and doing specific shoulder exercises.
The fracture is in the middle part of your collarbone. This fracture is common and usually mends without any problems.
- The fracture is in the middle part of your collarbone.
- This injury usually mends well.
- An outpatient check-up is generally not necessary, so there is no need to make a new appointment.
- Wear a sling for support for the first 3 weeks. Take it off when the pain has subsided to a tolerable level.
- Do not move the arm above shoulder level in the first 3 weeks (see photos below).
- Please find an instructional video for reapplying the sling in the Virtual Fracture Care app in the leaflet.
- It is important that you do exercises during your recovery to prevent the shoulder from becoming stiff.
- Appropriate exercises can be found in this leaflet or in the Virtual Fracture Care app.
If you have any questions or problems during the recovery, do not hesitate to contact us on workdays from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM via the 'Breuklijn' (fracture hotline): T 088 320 14 23.
The treatment consists of wearing a sling, having a short rest period and doing suitable exercises. This way you will experience less pain, the fracture will heal the fastest and you will reduce the risk of permanent injuries.
|First week (Week 0)|
|Week 6 onwards|
The following instructions are important to allow for a good healing:
- Have you received a sling? Use it for the first 3 weeks to give the collarbone a rest. When you go to sleep you can take off the sling.
- Please find instructions for reapplying the sling in the Virtual Fracture Care app.
- After your visit to the hospital, you can start training your shoulder as much as your pain or physical complaints allow. It is important that you start exercising in time to prevent shoulder stiffness. You can find the exercises and instructions in the Virtual Fracture Care app or in the leaflet. Increase the intensity of the exercises at a leisurely pace according to the instructions.
- Train your arm and shoulder depending on your physical complaints. This means you can use the arm and shoulder for as long as you can tolerate the pain.
- You are not allowed to play sports for the first 6 weeks. After that you can slowly start exercising, as far as your pain complaints allow. It can sometimes take up to 3 months before you can exercise without complaints.
- Physical therapy is usually not necessary. If you are dissatisfied with the function of your shoulder after 6 weeks, please consult a physiotherapist.
- Do you have pain? Use paracetamol if needed. Do not wait to take paracetamol until you are in too much pain. Always take it throughout the day. You can take 2 tablets of 500 mg paracetamol up to 4 times a day at fixed times. If paracetamol is not effective, you may use the painkillers you received at the emergency department in addition to paracetamol. Always use it according to the doctor's instructions.
Following a fracture of the collarbone, stiffness and loss of strength of the shoulder can occur. Below are some specific exercises you can do to prevent this as much as possible. You can also find them in the Virtual Fracture Care app.
Important! Do not overstep your own physical limits while exercising. Pain can be a sign of overexertion. If you feel pain, stop exercising. You may feel fatigue or muscle aches.
Train your shoulder in a calm and controlled manner, and as far as your pain allows. Do not move the arm above the shoulder for the first 3 weeks. During the first week it is wise to wear the sling for support. You can then take it off if the pain allows it. Try to keep the sling off more and more, if you can tolerate it. Keep repeating the exercises from the previous weeks.
Do not proceed to the next step in the exercises until you are able to perform the previous exercises.
Repeat the following exercises 3 to 4 times a day.
Move the fingers and wrist - supported by the sling if needed - by making a fist 10 to 15 times and bending and stretching it with your wrist.
Straighten and bend your elbow 10 to 15 times.
Press your forearm against your stomach. Hold this position for a few seconds and let go. Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Press your forearm against the side of your chest. Make sure your forearm is against your stomach. Hold this position for a few seconds and let go. Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Bend over slightly and make small circular motions with your elbow (pendulum movement) (see picture 1). Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Repeat the following exercises 3 to 4 times a day.
Press your stretched forearm against the side of your body. Hold this position for a few seconds and let go (see picture 2). Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Bend over slightly and let your arm hang down, stretched. Make small circular motions, clockwise and counter-clockwise (see picture 3). Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Bend and stretch the elbow while bent forward (see picture 4). Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Repeat the following exercises 3 to 4 times a day. Alternate the exercises.
Move your hand over your chest towards your healthy shoulder and try to tap the shoulder blade. Support your elbow with your other hand (see picture 5). Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Place your hands against each other in front of your chest and press them together. You will feel the muscles at the front of your shoulder working (see picture 6). Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Stretch your arm. Bring it forward and lift it to shoulder height (see picture 7). Try to hold the arm here for a moment. Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Lift your stretched arm sideways up to shoulder height. If necessary, use a wall for some support (see picture 8). Try to hold the arm here for a moment. Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
Move your arm backwards slowly with a stretched or bent elbow (see picture 9). Repeat this 10-15 times in a row.
- Repeat the exercises from week 3-4, now gently lifting the arm above shoulder level. You may move your arm as far as the pain allows.
- Alternate the exercises and perform them at a leisurely pace. Repeat 3 to 4 times a day.
Week 6 onwards
- You may return to using the shoulder as you did before the fracture. Continue the exercises from the previous week until you feel that you can do the same as you could before the fracture.
- Swimming is a good exercise to get the shoulder function back to normal.
- If you feel that you can do fewer exercises due to less strength or pain, guidance from a physiotherapist is recommended. You can arrange this yourself with or without a referral from your GP.
- Generally, a check-up at the outpatient clinic is not necessary. The fracture usually heals completely within a few weeks. It may take up to 6 weeks before you can fully use the arm and shoulder again.
- After the fracture has healed, a bulge may remain where the collarbone was broken. This is part of the healing process and does not impair its function. In some cases, this bulge persists.
- Does the pain get worse or has the pain not subsided after 3 weeks? Please contact the ‘Breuklijn’ (fracture hotline): T 088 320 14 23. If a check-up seems necessary, we will schedule an appointment.
If you have any questions or problems during the recovery, do not hesitate to contact us on workdays from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM via the ‘Breuklijn’ (fracture hotline).
Virtual Fracture Care App
Find more information about your injury in our app. The app also includes exercises that promote your recovery. You can find the app in the App Store (iPhone) or Google Store (Android). You can also scan the QR code. You will then automatically be redirected to the app.
Questions? Please call the 'Breuklijn'
If there are any questions after reading this information, please call our 'Breuklijn' (fracture hotline) on workdays between 10.00 and 12.00 via T 088 320 14 23.