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Clavicle Fractures in Children

What is a fractured clavicle?

A fractured clavicle is a break in the collar bone. This is a very common fracture in children. 

What are the common causes of a fractured clavicle?

It commonly happens after a falling onto an outstretched arm but can also occur after a direct blow to the chest or shoulder or from falling on to the shoulder. 

What are the symptoms?

Your child may complain of pain in the shoulder/chest region. They may have an obvious bump over the collar bone.

Their shoulder may look more raised on the injured side compared to their shoulder on the opposite side. Younger children may be reluctant to use their arm.  

How is it diagnosed?

The story of how it occurred and an examination of your child’s arm will help us diagnose a fractured clavicle.

An X-ray of the clavicle is performed so we will be able to see where the bone is broken and if there it is a more serious injury.

How is it treated?

This type of fracture heals well. The only treatments that are generally required are pain killers and a sling. If your child seems to be in pain they should be given simple painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Once the examination and x-ray have been carried out most children will be placed in a sling. Rarely does this type of fracture require an operation.

We would expect the collar bone to be painful for 4-6 weeks and your child may find it more comfortable to sleep sitting upright for a few days after the injury.

The shoulder and arm can be moved out of the sling as comfort allows. This will usually be about 2 weeks after the injury but can be sooner if comfortable.

The ‘bump’ over the fracture is quite normal and is produced by healing bone. It may take up to one year to disappear. If your child is older than ten years a small bump may remain.

Your child may return to activities as soon as comfortable, but should avoid swimming and contact sports (such as football, rugby and basketball) for six weeks. 

Are there any possible complications?

There is generally an excellent return to normal function after a clavicle fracture. It is extremely rare to develop complications from a clavicle fractures.

If you are still experiencing significant symptoms after two to three months, please contact your GP or us for further advice. 

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