The clavicle, or collar bone, forms a strut between the shoulder blade and the top of the breastbone to help support the arm. It is attached to the scapular acromion at one end and the sternum at the other end and is part of the shoulder girdle. A fractured clavicle is a common sporting injury which can be caused by a fall with the arm outstretched, or direct impact to the area of the body.
Fractures occur twice as often in men than they do in females, and the most common break is to the middle third of the clavicle. Pain and an inability to raise the arm are two obvious symptoms. The extent of the injury can be established with an X-ray, and treatment involves sports first aid by the application of ice packs, rest and immobilization of the arm and shoulder. The next step is to put the injured arm in a sports supports in the form of a sling. A sports support such as this will help the bones to realign in the correct position. A brace, which holds the shoulders back rather like a soldier standing to attention, may also be worn.
Most collar bone fractures heal without surgery, but if an operation is required, contoured plates are often used to aid the healing process. Healing time can be anything from three to eighteen months, but healing can be accelerated by the consumption by the sports person of calcium rich foods. Once the bone begins to heal, gentle shoulder and arm exercises are recommended to keep the muscles supple.