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Clavicle Fracture Surgery

Clavicle Fracture Surgery Overview

The clavicle (collarbone) can become injured during sports activities, a fall, an automobile accident or other trauma. This shoulder injury is particularly high in football players and other contact sport athletes. Even though this injury is quite common, no two injuries are similar. The clavicle can break in a number of different patterns ranging from a simple crack through the bone with bone ends still lining up to a break into multiple fragments of bone, referred to as a “comminution.” A clavicle surgery is recommended by Dr. Brian Waterman if the clavicle is severely out of alignment, or if the fracture does not heal over a six to 10 week period. A clavicle fracture surgery is typically recommended to restore normal alignment and length of the bone in cases where a comminution is present.

A clavicle fracture surgery is an outpatient procedure performed by Dr. Waterman to place the bones back in their original position, leading to the bones healing in normal alignment. A clavicle surgery typically involves an incision over the top of the shoulder and the placement of a plate and screws along the top of the clavicle. The procedure may also use a long pin in the center of the bone, referred to as intramedullary nailing. The hardware may be removed by Dr. Waterman once the fracture has fully healed if it results in any discomfort. Intramedullary nailing is not appropriate for all clavicle fractures. Dr. Waterman will recommend and explain the proper clavicle fracture surgery to all patients at the time of consultation.

Recovery and Rehabilitation after Clavicle Fracture Surgery

Patients are normally able to return home the same day following a clavicle surgery. A sling is used to protect the area for four to six weeks after surgery. A thorough physical therapy program will be prescribed by Dr. Waterman. The program will focus on regaining strength, motion and function of the shoulder and arm. Fracture healing is generally complete by 12 weeks after surgery at which time patients can return to normal activities including sports.

At a Glance

Dr. Brian Waterman, MD

  • Chief & Fellowship Director, Sports Medicine, Wake Forest
  • Team Physician, Wake Forest University, Chicago White Sox
  • Military affiliation/Decorated military officer and surgeon
  • Learn more

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