Especially amongst cyclists this is a very topical subject. The number of patients I am seeing with collarbone injuries has doubled in the last year: possibly due to cyclists braving the harsh winter conditions and the forever deteriorating road surfaces...
The collar bone (clavicle) helps link the axial (spine) and appendicular (arm) skeleton together and allows the forearm and hand to conduct fine intricate movements. It helps to form two joints: the sternoclavicular joint (sternum and the clavicle) and the acromioclavicular joint (AC joint -acromion of scapula and clavicle). The AC joint is one of the two most used joints in the body.
How to have a happy collar bone:
1) Keep the upper body strong with planks, press ups, tricep dips and bicep curls - using your own body weight is key.
2) Keep the shoulder joint at its optimum range of movement - stretching all the shoulder and neck muscles and doing large circles with the arms keeps the joint lubricated and moving at its full capacity.
The Clavicle can be broken in many places but most commonly it happens at the AC joint when there is a trauma directly to the joint or when falling on an outstretched hand.
What are the symptoms when you suspect collarbone damage?
1) Shoulder appears lower and positioned more forward
2) Difficulty to lift the arm
3) Bruising, swelling and a “bump” over the end of the clavicle.
What can you do to speed up the process of recovery?
1) Your Orthopaedic surgeon is the go to person to find out if you need any surgical
intervention. They will advise you what will work best e.g leaving it to naturally heal with the use of a sling or to have it pinned.
2) Get it moving when you get the all clear from your Orthopaedic surgeon/GP. This can take anything from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. I have known cyclists who are back on the turbo after 10 days of breaking their collarbone! Every person is different with their recovery time but from my experience the quicker you can get the body back into its normal routine the faster it seems to recover.
3) Alongside a Physio/Osteopath work on reducing pain, keeping the whole shoulder joint moving as much as possible & regaining strength starting with body weight and then increasing to added weights.
It never ceases to amaze me how resilient the body is and how quickly it does recover and return to its fully functioning state. The crucial weeks are at the beginning so make sure you seek the appropriate medical diagnosis and Orthopaedic advise and get into rehab as fast as you possibly can. Research has shown that sleep and keeping hydrated helps the body recover so if nothing else these two steps will send you down the right path at least to begin with.