When do clavicle or “collar bone” fractures need surgery?

How common are clavicle or “collar bone” fractures?
Clavicle fractures, also known as “collar bone” fracture, are fairly common and can account for up to 5% of all fractured bones in adults.
How do clavicle fractures occur?
Clavicle fractures often occur from a direct blow to the shoulder from a fall or sometimes from more serious trauma like a motor vehicle crash.
How is a clavicle fracture diagnosed?
A physical examination can confirm the diagnosis of a broken clavicle. There is often very clear pain and swelling overlying the clavicle at the site of the fracture. An x-ray of the clavicle will confirm the diagnosis of a clavicle fracture.
Why is the clavicle important?
The clavicle is an important strut for support and motion of the shoulder. Many think of the clavicle as a simple and straight bone, but it is actually quite complex and critical for shoulder function. The clavicle is actually s-shaped and serves as a crankshaft for the shoulder. The clavicle serves a key role as a mobile strut for scapular (shoulder blade) and arm motion.
How are clavicle fractures treated?
Most clavicle fractures are able to be successfully treated non-surgically with a sling and rehabilitation; however, some displaced and more complex clavicle fractures are often treated with surgery.
When do clavicle fractures need surgery?

Clavicle fractures that are displaced or shifted significantly may require surgery.  Additionally, clavicle fractures with interposed loose “butterfly” fragments or a “kickstand” piece may require surgery.  The physical examination can reveal significant clavicle shortening or a “scapular droop,” which provides important clinical information.  A shoulder specialist can perform a clinical examination and x-ray to see whether surgical or non-surgical treatment will be the best.

Read more about shoulder fractures here: https://www.brentmorrismd.com/services/shoulder-fracture

About Us

Dr. Brent J. Morris is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship-trained shoulder and elbow specialist inin Lexington, Kentucky at Baptist Health Lexington – Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.  Dr. Morris has expertise in treating shoulder fractures and is very experienced in treating clavicle fractures.  

Dr. Morris is an Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (FAAOS) and an Active Member of American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES).  Dr. Morris and his research team have published extensively on shoulder surgery and ways to improve outcomes and patient satisfaction following shoulder surgery.  He is co-author of a textbook devoted to shoulder surgery.  

Brent J. Morris, MD


Dr. Brent J. Morris