Clavicle Fractures from Accidents


Clavicle Fractures from Accidents

I’m Ed Smith, an Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. Fractures to the clavicle are among some of the most common injuries to the upper body sustained in car accidents. These fractures can happen fairly easily yet can have serious consequences. With a traumatic injury such as a clavicle fracture, there are a few things to know so that you can get help quickly following an accident.

What are Clavicle Fractures?

A clavicle fracture is a break in the collarbone, a bone that spans from the shoulder to the breastbone. This bone is important in connecting the arm to the body and can normally be seen protruding under the skin. A break to this bone is very painful- the collarbone can break fairly easily with enough impact or force.

Falls and Car Accidents 

Clavicle fractures can result from many different kinds of accidents such as falls during activities or sports and trauma from car accidents. These injuries make up about 5% of all adult fracture injuries. Fractures to the clavicle are very common in children as well and usually occur during playtime. The main symptoms people express when they have a clavicle fracture are reports of pain and reluctance to move the injured arm or shoulder.

Classification of Clavicle Fractures

  • Medial
  • Middle
  • Distal

Most physicians will know exactly what has happened when someone comes into the emergency room with a fracture of the clavicle. AP radiographs or chest x-rays will be able to identify most fractures. Once a fracture is diagnosed it will be classified based on the location of the break in the bone. Clavicle fractures can be located in the medial, middle, or distal third of the bone. About 80% of clavicle fractures take place in the middle third; fractures to the medial third are rare. Breaks in the distal third are more complex and also are at risk of not reattaching properly.

Fractures can also vary by the type of break as well. A fracture to the clavicle can be a clean break or can shatter into several pieces making the healing process more complex.

Healing Process

Most clavicle fracture cases will heal normally with a sling to stabilize the bone, some pain medication, and rehabilitation. In most injuries to the clavicle, recovery can be expected with very few limitations. In 2-3 weeks most patient’s symptoms heal enough to tolerate exercises for rehabilitation. In about 6 weeks the sling or bandages can be removed and daily activities resumed. Heavy activities or exercises are still avoided until the full union of the bone is achieved. Sometimes the bone does not heal to its best or former alignment and can result in some limitations in movement and function. If neurovascular structures have been compressed then surgical treatment will be required.

Is Surgery Needed?

In most clavicle fracture injury cases, the biggest concern is one of alignment. Surgical stabilization can be implimented for patients with floating shoulder or other injuries that they may have occrued as well. In cases requring surgery, a plate and screw fixation or even implants may be used as needed. Along with surgery, pain medication and rehabilitation will be important for the healing process.


One of the most serious complications to be concerned about with fractures is an infection. Receiving prompt treatment and following up with your doctor is the best way to prevent an infection from occurring.

An important preventative measure is to always wear a seatbelt when riding in a car. If an accident does occur, wearing a seatbelt will help to minimze any injuries.

Related Articles by Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer, Ed Smith:


Sacramento Injury Lawyer 

I’m Ed Smith, an Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. A clavicle fracture is common following an automobile accident and could have serious consequences if left untreated. If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another motorist, please call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly legal advice. I am also available online at

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Radiology by Nevit Dilmen. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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