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  1. #1
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    Clavicle broken -surgery or let it be?

    Hi,

    I broke my collarbone and 2 ribs in my back during a fast descent on a stony trail 16 days ago. Had a concussion and don't remember the details. Here's the x-ray at 10 days. Doc says to let it heal on its own.
    I'm concerned about range of motion and strength, am 28 and don't plan on becoming less active.

    What are your experiences with letting displaced fractures heal on their own?

    Thanks!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Clavicle broken -surgery or let it be?-clavicula.jpg  


  2. #2
    ?hipster?
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    I fractured both my clavicles (many years ago) and recently the neck of one of my replaced hips, all healed fine w/o surgery. No issues. One of my clavicles has a hell of a lump sticking out but it doesn't bother me. It's best to avoid surgery if possible. Wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion if you are concerned.

  3. #3
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    For clavicle fracture, no surgery is typically required unless there is significant displacement, compound fracture or tenting of the skin that could cause penetration of the skin.

    These typically heal very well without intervention.

    There's an old saying that if both ends of the broken clavicle are in the same room, it will heal.

    Most other fractures will require surgical fixation.

  4. #4
    Robtre
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    Glad this came up. I have broken both my clavicles as a young man skateboarding and other un-mentionable stupidity. St. Patricks day beer ride 1 mile in my left handlebar clipped at tree, and bounced me back to the right hotting a tree square with my right shoulder. Painful at first, and initially I thought I just dislocated it, because it popped back into place. So being the stubborn a** I am I kept riding. My arm was weak, and bumps were painful, but I thought I was ok until I stopped riding and I was in severe pain. I decided to forgo medical treatment because I currently am without insurance and couldn't come out of pocket for unknown expenses. So almost two weeks later I am doing pretty good, but I think the impact may have fractured or broken my clavicle on the far outside because the top pointy part of the bone sticks up higher that the other side. I don't know really what to do. I have full range of movement, and minimal pain. Swelling has gone down, and the bruising has disappeared. I don't feel like I lost any strength although lifting things causes pain to increase slightly. My fear is its not going to heal right and my right arm will never be 100% again. With my other clavicle breaks, all the doctor did was put me in a sling for 6 weeks. I think at this point the doctors cant do anything for me. Only certain ranges of movement are mildly painful and getting less and less painful.
    -rides bikes for fun.

  5. #5
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    If the bone is pointing up at the more outside part of the shoulder, you may have an AC separation. May be worth a simple x-ray.

  6. #6
    Robtre
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    If I did get an X-ray, what could the doctors do about it? The soreness I have, I am really sure is muscular/tendon soreness from over-extension. It does appear to be getting better day by day. Not sure if I dis-located it, or separated it, or if that is the same thing. When I try to google it and learn more I get scared and start to panic. What I do know is that in most cases of AC separation, there is significant strength loss, which I have not experienced.
    -rides bikes for fun.

  7. #7
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    If you're getting better daily, I'd let it ride. Sometimes injureis can be cosmetic only and not really cause too much issue down the road.

    If there isn't any weakness, surgery probably isn't indicated.

  8. #8
    Robtre
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    Cool man thanks for your advice. Imma let it ride.
    -rides bikes for fun.

  9. #9
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    I have fractured both of mine. The right was real nasty because it broke in 2 places and a 3 inch piece of bone fell out causing my shoulder to look disfigured so I had a plate put in and it's fine.

    My left one was a year later and not near as bad, but my left shoulder is about 2 inches shorter than my right and is causing a lot of muscle pain in my neck and the back of my shoulder.

    If it's not too late and you can find a Dr to do it they can put a pin in the center of the bone then remove it when it heals.

    There's a Dr at Duke University that specializes in them.

    Good Luck!
    2014 Jamis Dakar XCT 650b Pro

  10. #10
    Workin for the weekend!
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    It depends on the severity of your injury. I had surgery to rebuild mine, the pain was manageable sooner, and I was on the bike faster than just letting it heal. If the alignment of your clavicles isn't symmetrical it could affect your future range of motion.

    I have a plate and 8 sharp screws holding to all together now, that stuff will stay in there forever. Rehab therapy was critical to being pain free, my surgeon did an amazing job solving the problem.
    Todd

  11. #11
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    I also had a pin placed in the center of the bone! I recovered very quickly! I believe that it is fairly new pin/procedure. I know that my doc said he uses the pin to fix fractures, malunions, nonunions or bothersome plates. I was referred from a website called collarbonedoc.com, and that is where I found my surgeon. I would highly recommend!!

  12. #12
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    I tried a bunch of surgeons in the Atlanta area and they all said no. When I broke my left one I went to him and he asked me if I wanted a pin. He told me after we talked about a year ago he did more research and now does them all of the time. I'm glad I could help him out.
    2014 Jamis Dakar XCT 650b Pro

  13. #13
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    I too had a pin placed in my clavicle. Broke it in three places. I wasn't really given a choice though, when the doc in the ER looked at the x-ray he stated that I either needed surgery or needed to learn to eat left handed. Was approved for road rides at nine weeks and back on the trail at twelve weeks. Nothing empirical, but my recovery sure seemed a lot quicker than others that have had no surgery or went the plate route.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the ideas. I'll be letting it heal on its own.

  15. #15
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    Clavicle broken -surgery or let it be?



    No surgery was recommended for my clavicle break back in September 2013. I got the all clear to ride 2 months after the injury, and it felt great at the time. Rode like crazy for all of November-January.

    In mid-January, I needed crutches for a broken ankle, and the crutches aggravated my collarbone, out of nowhere. Everything had been fine. Got an xray...turned out the clavicle never healed fully, and now, I have a non-union!

    I'd say avoiding surgery is definitely the way to go...but make sure you get X-rays later in the healing process and make sure it is fully healed.

  16. #16
    Robtre
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    Update on my situation, Saturday was 2 weeks, and I am 90% better. My shoulder is strong, pain is very minimal, and range of motion seems to be improving. I am not suggesting anyone not see a doctor, it just turns out I was lucky this time.
    -rides bikes for fun.

  17. #17
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    Just checking in, another "i shattered it into multiple pieces" guy, I have 6 screws and a plate holding mine together. I tried for a week and a half to heal it on it's own but it wasn't going well so the doc recommended surgery to retain as much full range of motion as we could.

    I don't notice it much as of now, it's been 7 years.

  18. #18
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    Clavicle broken -surgery or let it be?

    Long story short. I broke mine in 96 into 9 pieces. The idiot Doctor said it should heal on its own. At about the two month mark a fragment poke a hole in a nearby artery and I started bleeding out while I was sleeping. Luckily I woke up and called a neighbor for help because I didn't feel right. Rushed to the hospital, emergency cat scan surgery to fix the leak another cat scan. A few weeks later I started to lose feeling in my arm due to the fracture healing and engulfing the nerve. So back to the doctor more xRays and he concluded that it was healing well so let's try this contraption that is suppose to promote healing. No clue wtf it was to this day. Finally at 6 months I went to see another doctor and get his opinion and he asked me if I had just broke it and I laughed and told him I broke it over 6 months ago. So two weeks later I'm in surgery to repair my collar bone and the damage that was done to the muscle from all of the fragment. Also had a neuro surgeon in there to try to repair the damaged nerve. About two months later I was back on the bike and it took about two years to get about 90% of my range of motion back in my shoulder.

    And then to make matters worse about a year later I was diagnosis with Thyroid cancer from radiation exposure from all the X-rays.

    So here is my advise get it fixed now before you damage the surrounding area.
    Marty-mj
    Dakar 650b Pro Full Squish & Trek Farley Fat Bike

  19. #19
    Workin for the weekend!
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    Here's mine...

    Clavicle broken -surgery or let it be?-image.jpg

    No pain or range of motion issues here.
    Todd

  20. #20
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    Clavicle broken -surgery or let it be?-broken-left-clavicle.jpg


    Looks like a clean clavicle break to me.

    Basically , sling + enjoy the meds in your recovery process ( then again I am no doctor )

    As for myself , I am close to 4 weeks into my recovery and am able to do a normal lap around the carpark (occasional wheelies thrown in but not recommended) .

    That being said , I dont think i want to risk things and will be off the bike for another few weeks .

    Good luck in your recovery !

  21. #21
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    Clavicle broken -surgery or let it be?-2014-04-09-11.18.30.jpg


    So it's looking like this at 4 weeks. Doc said a plate fix could have been an option considering the displacement, but that the plate couldn't be removed before 1-2 years because hospitals are saturated (am in central america, no PT for this either).

    Great to hear about other experiences, thanks for the time to post. Will follow the advice to take it easy until 12 weeks.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Todd- View Post
    Here's mine...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    No pain or range of motion issues here.
    Just had similar surgery last week. Got the same plate and 8 screws. No pain, just waiting it out. How long after surgery were you able to ride again?

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