The clavicle is the collar bone. It is one of the most susceptible bones in the body, being that it could be broken by a simple fall onto your shoulder. If this bone is fractured, you will know. Usually, pain is accompanied by a bump somewhere along the bone.
The way that medicine has approached clavicle fractures has varied over the years. There was a time when the majority of fractures to this bone were not operated on; then a time during which most clavicle fractures were treated surgically. Today, decisions are made on a case by case basis. Here, we will look at some of the common myths about this type of injury.
Myth: Surgery will expedite healing.
This is not a given. What is required for healing is blood flow. The muscles attached to the clavicle can supply this. Surgical repair requires that a good deal of muscle be moved away from the bone; otherwise it would be difficult to observe the complete fracture. Repair with screws and a plate means that the bone will heal in a different manner than if healing were to occur naturally. Now, if the bone is displaced 2 centimeters or more, it is likely that surgery will, in fact, expedite the healing process.
Myth: Surgery will facilitate a faster return to sports.
The question of whether to operate or not to operate is a big one for the avid athlete who just wants to be able to stay in the game. There have been a few studies done on the subject of which approach is better in terms of returning the athlete to his or her given sport. The important component in research is to compare similar cases. For instance, one study that showed promising results for surgical treatment did not compare the same degree of displacement from one patient to another. This limits findings. What has been gleaned from research is that a large percentage of patients who do undergo surgery are happy with their results at the 6-week mark.
Myth: Surgery will improve an athlete's game.
The only time that surgery for a broken clavicle may improve athletic performance would be if there is significant overlap of two pieces of bone. A significant overlap would shorten the bone, and thus potentially degrade arm movements. However, most fractures are not that severe, which would mean that surgery may have minimal impact on performance.
Surgery for a fractured clavicle is something that follows an in-depth discussion after observation of diagnostic images and a thorough examination. Do you need orthopedic care? Contact our New Jersey practice at (973) 942-1315.