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Plymouth Paediatric Orthopaedics

Clavicle Fracture

Collar Bone (Clavicle) Fractures

Your Child has a broken collar bone (clavicle). A broken bone may also be referred to as cracked or fractured – these terms mean the same thing.

Why does the arm need to be in a sling?

  • The sling is not a specific treatment for the broken bone, but it is used to reduce pain.

How long must the arm be in a sling?

  • The arm can be in a sling for up to 3 weeks. This can be under or over clothes, depending on what seems to work best. The sling can be worn at night. Sometimes these fractures settle down more quickly and if it isn’t too sore it is fine for them to start taking the sling off sooner. Start by taking it off for short periods of time, and at night, and go from there.

Arm exercises

  • Arms exercises are very important. Your child should be encouraged to move their elbow, hand and fingers as soon as they can

Can the sling be removed for washing and dressing?

  • Yes. If your child leans forward the arm will naturally move away from the body allowing you to wash under the armpit. Change clothes carefully to minimise pain

What if my child will not keep the sling on all the time?

  • Some younger children will not keep their sling on – don’t worry. They can use their arm as much as their pain allows and will limit themselves.
  • They should however be stopped from rough play.

What can I expect?

  • The injury can be very painful at first. It is often uncomfortable in bed and sleeping propped up on extra pillows may help. Painkillers like Paracetamol or Ibuprofen should be given. Please ask the doctor or nurse if you are not sure of the dose.
  • For the first few days, the skin over the fracture site may well be bruised and this will settle down on its own over the first week.
  • If the skin appears to be breaking down or you are concerned about it please seek medical attention.
  • A lump will develop over the fracture site which will be tender to start with. Later this lump will become hard and painless as new bone starts to form as part of the healing process. This lump may persist for months, but should eventually get smaller (especially in younger children)

When should I seek further medical attention?

  • Very occasionally, shortness of breath and chest pain can develop after a collar bone fracture, when one end of the broken collar bone injures the lung. If this occurs you should seek medical attention urgently.
  • If there is severe pain which does not respond to painkillers, or if the pain persists or gets worse after about 3 weeks, seek medical attention

Are there any other important points?

  • Your child can go to school but should wear the splint as directed above
  • Your child should not take part in any PE, sport or rough activities for 6 weeks.
  • Nearly all of these fractures heal very well by themselves and do not require further follow up
  • If you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to seek medical attention.

Points of Contact for further medical advice:

General Practitioner
Minor Injuries Unit
Emergency Department
NHS Direct: 0845 46 47