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Recovery time after collarbone surgery: Broken collarbone recovery time | TRIA blog

Collarbone surgery: Procedure, uses, and recovery

Collarbone surgery involves repairing a broken clavicle bone. Surgeons will try to realign the displaced bone and fix it in place to help it heal. People can usually return to their usual activities within 3 months.

The clavicle, or collarbone, sits on top of the rib cage in front of the chest. It provides support for shoulder movement.

A collarbone fracture often occurs due to a fall onto the shoulder or an outstretched arm. This type of fracture is common. About 5% of all adult fractures involve the collarbone. About 35%-45% of breaks in the shoulder area involve the collarbone.

After a collarbone fracture, doctors may recommend surgery. This article explores collarbone surgery, including what happens during the procedure, risks, and recovery.

Share on PinterestJessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Doctors may treat a collarbone fracture with or without surgery. In some cases, conservative treatment without surgery is an option. But in other instances, doctors recommend surgery.

The break can occur in the following places:

  • In the middle of the collarbone, where the bone attaches to the shoulder blade or ribcage. This is the most common type of clavicle fracture.
  • Near the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, where the clavicle meets the shoulder. This is the second most common type of fracture.
  • Close to the sternum (breastbone). This is the least common type of break.

The need for collarbone surgery depends on the severity of the fracture. Sometimes, the bone may only crack. However, more serious fractures can result in the collarbone breaking into several pieces.

Collarbone surgery involves putting the bone back into the correct alignment, which promotes proper healing.

Doctors may recommend collarbone surgery in the following situations:

  • A displaced fracture: This involves a break that moves the bone so much that it becomes misaligned. This fracture has an increased chance of complications, such as not healing well.
  • An open fracture: This refers to a broken bone that breaks through the skin. An open fracture causes an increased risk of problems, such as infection.
  • A non-healing fracture: Collarbone fractures may also involve nonsurgical treatments. However, about 30% of collarbone fractures treated without surgery do not heal properly. When a nonsurgical approach fails, surgery may become an option.

Learn more about the causes of collarbone pain.

Collarbone surgery aims to stabilize the broken bone, allowing it to heal in the correct position.

Surgery usually involves open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) surgery. This is where surgeons realign the misplaced bones and then fix them in place with screws, pins, plates, or rods.

Typically, doctors perform the surgery under general anesthesia, which means a person is unconscious throughout the procedure.

ORIF surgery involves the surgeon:

  1. applying antiseptic to the skin area, which helps prevent infection
  2. making an incision in the skin and muscle near the collarbone
  3. aligning and repositioning the pieces of bone
  4. inserting plates, screws, or pins to hold the bones in place and improve shoulder strength

Learn more about bone fracture repair.

Anyone having surgery on their clavicle will receive specific instructions before the operation. This may include stopping certain medications for a time before surgery. However, a person should not stop taking medications until a healthcare professional has instructed them to do so.

Preparation may also include getting an X-ray of the collarbone to determine the severity of the bone misalignment.

Usually, before surgery, doctors order blood tests and an EKG to check for any abnormalities that may prevent the surgeon from operating safely.

Healing time after collarbone surgery can vary depending on someone’s overall health and lifestyle. For example, smoking tobacco may slow the healing process. Most people can resume regular activities about 3 months after the surgery.

During initial recovery, a person will wear a sling to keep the shoulder from moving. Pain levels may vary. But some pain is a natural part of the healing process. The doctor will advise how to manage pain during recovery.

A small patch of skin below the cut may feel numb. This may become less noticeable over time. Some people report feeling the plate that holds the bones in place.

A healthcare professional may also recommend physical therapy after an initial period of healing. Physical therapists can aid recovery by teaching people exercises to improve their range of motion and strengthen the shoulder.

Regular follow-up appointments with a healthcare professional are necessary to ensure the bone heals well.

Learn more about how broken bones heal.

The outcome of collarbone surgery is typically good. But it is not clear whether surgery leads to better overall healing.

This 2018 research involved a small study of 138 people with closed midshaft collarbone fractures. Of the participants, 69 had collarbone surgery, and 69 received nonoperative treatment.

The study found no differences in poor outcomes or complications between the group treated with surgery and the nonsurgical treatment group.

But other research has found that surgery provides a more favorable recovery than nonsurgical treatment. A 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis involved 3,094 people with a closed midshaft collarbone fracture. The study indicated that surgical treatment led to fewer complications and better long-term function than nonsurgical treatment.

Doctors might recommend nonsurgical treatment for a collarbone fracture if the bones are not significantly misaligned.

Treatment may include:

  • wearing a sling to prevent the bone from moving while healing
  • icing the area to reduce inflammation
  • taking pain medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), to relieve pain as the bone heals
  • doing physical therapy to improve strength and range of motion

Learn more about how fractures heal here.

All surgery carries risks, including the risk of infection and excessive bleeding. Sometimes, the bone does not heal properly after collarbone surgery, which is known as non-union. However, the overall infection and non-union rate for collarbone surgery affect fewer than 4.5% of people.

A large number of nerves surround the collarbone. Nerve injury due to the surgery can occur but is uncommon.

Another possible risk involves discomfort from the pins, screws, or plates used to hold the bone in place.

Collarbone surgery involves the repair of a clavicle fracture. Not all collarbone fractures require surgery. But for an open or displaced fracture, healthcare professionals often recommend surgery.

Surgery involves putting the bone into the proper position and fixing it using pins, rods, screws, or plates to keep it in place.

Healing times vary, but people typically resume their usual activities within 3 months.

Collarbone surgery: Procedure, uses, and recovery

Collarbone surgery involves repairing a broken clavicle bone. Surgeons will try to realign the displaced bone and fix it in place to help it heal. People can usually return to their usual activities within 3 months.

The clavicle, or collarbone, sits on top of the rib cage in front of the chest. It provides support for shoulder movement.

A collarbone fracture often occurs due to a fall onto the shoulder or an outstretched arm. This type of fracture is common. About 5% of all adult fractures involve the collarbone. About 35%-45% of breaks in the shoulder area involve the collarbone.

After a collarbone fracture, doctors may recommend surgery. This article explores collarbone surgery, including what happens during the procedure, risks, and recovery.

Share on PinterestJessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Doctors may treat a collarbone fracture with or without surgery. In some cases, conservative treatment without surgery is an option. But in other instances, doctors recommend surgery.

The break can occur in the following places:

  • In the middle of the collarbone, where the bone attaches to the shoulder blade or ribcage. This is the most common type of clavicle fracture.
  • Near the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, where the clavicle meets the shoulder. This is the second most common type of fracture.
  • Close to the sternum (breastbone). This is the least common type of break.

The need for collarbone surgery depends on the severity of the fracture. Sometimes, the bone may only crack. However, more serious fractures can result in the collarbone breaking into several pieces.

Collarbone surgery involves putting the bone back into the correct alignment, which promotes proper healing.

Doctors may recommend collarbone surgery in the following situations:

  • A displaced fracture: This involves a break that moves the bone so much that it becomes misaligned. This fracture has an increased chance of complications, such as not healing well.
  • An open fracture: This refers to a broken bone that breaks through the skin. An open fracture causes an increased risk of problems, such as infection.
  • A non-healing fracture: Collarbone fractures may also involve nonsurgical treatments. However, about 30% of collarbone fractures treated without surgery do not heal properly. When a nonsurgical approach fails, surgery may become an option.

Learn more about the causes of collarbone pain.

Collarbone surgery aims to stabilize the broken bone, allowing it to heal in the correct position.

Surgery usually involves open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) surgery. This is where surgeons realign the misplaced bones and then fix them in place with screws, pins, plates, or rods.

Typically, doctors perform the surgery under general anesthesia, which means a person is unconscious throughout the procedure.

ORIF surgery involves the surgeon:

  1. applying antiseptic to the skin area, which helps prevent infection
  2. making an incision in the skin and muscle near the collarbone
  3. aligning and repositioning the pieces of bone
  4. inserting plates, screws, or pins to hold the bones in place and improve shoulder strength

Learn more about bone fracture repair.

Anyone having surgery on their clavicle will receive specific instructions before the operation. This may include stopping certain medications for a time before surgery. However, a person should not stop taking medications until a healthcare professional has instructed them to do so.

Preparation may also include getting an X-ray of the collarbone to determine the severity of the bone misalignment.

Usually, before surgery, doctors order blood tests and an EKG to check for any abnormalities that may prevent the surgeon from operating safely.

Healing time after collarbone surgery can vary depending on someone’s overall health and lifestyle. For example, smoking tobacco may slow the healing process. Most people can resume regular activities about 3 months after the surgery.

During initial recovery, a person will wear a sling to keep the shoulder from moving. Pain levels may vary. But some pain is a natural part of the healing process. The doctor will advise how to manage pain during recovery.

A small patch of skin below the cut may feel numb. This may become less noticeable over time. Some people report feeling the plate that holds the bones in place.

A healthcare professional may also recommend physical therapy after an initial period of healing. Physical therapists can aid recovery by teaching people exercises to improve their range of motion and strengthen the shoulder.

Regular follow-up appointments with a healthcare professional are necessary to ensure the bone heals well.

Learn more about how broken bones heal.

The outcome of collarbone surgery is typically good. But it is not clear whether surgery leads to better overall healing.

This 2018 research involved a small study of 138 people with closed midshaft collarbone fractures. Of the participants, 69 had collarbone surgery, and 69 received nonoperative treatment.

The study found no differences in poor outcomes or complications between the group treated with surgery and the nonsurgical treatment group.

But other research has found that surgery provides a more favorable recovery than nonsurgical treatment. A 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis involved 3,094 people with a closed midshaft collarbone fracture. The study indicated that surgical treatment led to fewer complications and better long-term function than nonsurgical treatment.

Doctors might recommend nonsurgical treatment for a collarbone fracture if the bones are not significantly misaligned.

Treatment may include:

  • wearing a sling to prevent the bone from moving while healing
  • icing the area to reduce inflammation
  • taking pain medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), to relieve pain as the bone heals
  • doing physical therapy to improve strength and range of motion

Learn more about how fractures heal here.

All surgery carries risks, including the risk of infection and excessive bleeding. Sometimes, the bone does not heal properly after collarbone surgery, which is known as non-union. However, the overall infection and non-union rate for collarbone surgery affect fewer than 4.5% of people.

A large number of nerves surround the collarbone. Nerve injury due to the surgery can occur but is uncommon.

Another possible risk involves discomfort from the pins, screws, or plates used to hold the bone in place.

Collarbone surgery involves the repair of a clavicle fracture. Not all collarbone fractures require surgery. But for an open or displaced fracture, healthcare professionals often recommend surgery.

Surgery involves putting the bone into the proper position and fixing it using pins, rods, screws, or plates to keep it in place.

Healing times vary, but people typically resume their usual activities within 3 months.

Features of rehabilitation after osteosynthesis of the femur, humerus and lower leg

12.04.2021Updated on 14.04.2021

Rehabilitation after osteosynthesis lasts from 4 to 12 months, depending on the type and severity of the fracture, the location of the injury, the method of surgery, the age of the patient and other factors. The recovery program is developed individually by an orthopedist-traumatologist together with a rehabilitation specialist, and then it is corrected as it progresses. We invite you to learn more about rehabilitation measures for various joints.

Recovery after surgery consists of several stages. Before a planned osteosynthesis, the attending physician will talk about the features of rehabilitation, as well as the need to purchase a cane, crutches or walkers.

Postoperative rest

The first stage of the postoperative period is the most important. For accelerated rehabilitation of osteosynthesis of the lower leg, thigh or ankle, the operated joint is fixed with a plaster or a rigid orthosis. The load on the damaged joint should be moderate.

The average period is 3-5 days. At this time, the patient experiences pain in the operated area, swelling of the limb occurs. Painkillers are prescribed to relieve pain. The patient is shown bed or semi-bed rest, the limb should be raised. In some cases, it can be extended up to 14 days.

After 1-2 days after surgery, the doctor removes the vacuum drain, and with it a small amount of blood is evacuated. Its volume depends on the location of the injury. For example, during rehabilitation after osteosynthesis of the thigh – from 100 to 400 ml, shoulder and forearm – up to 100 ml, lower leg – no more than 200 ml. Vacuum drainage is performed to prevent hematomas, which can provoke inflammation and subsequent complications of the operation.

Dressings are carried out within three days after the operation, and from the 4th day it is possible to treat the intervention area with film-forming compounds.

The timing of suture removal depends on the injured area and the dynamics of postoperative wound healing. In most cases, the sutures are removed after 10 days on the upper limbs, and after 14 days on the lower limbs. To fix the position of the limb, a splint can be applied, which allows you to change the angle of flexion of the joint. To avoid the development of pneumonia, the patient is prescribed breathing exercises and physical exercises.

Mobilization period

After 6-7 days after the operation, the pain subsides and may not disturb the patient in the absence of stress, and the swelling is significantly reduced. At this stage, rehabilitation after osteosynthesis of the lower leg, femur and humerus includes a number of restorative and preventive measures:

  • Therapeutic exercise;
  • Physiotherapeutic procedures;
  • Therapeutic massages;
  • Restoration of full range of motion;
  • Taking drugs for internal and external use;
  • Compliance with the diet prescribed by the doctor.

Swimming lessons

In the postoperative period, patients are shown swimming lessons. Their purpose is:

  • Improvement of blood circulation and lymph flow;
  • Elimination of pain syndrome;
  • Recovery of trophic functions;
  • Stimulation of tissue regeneration;
  • Increased range of motion in the joints.

Exercising in the water is much easier, since much less effort is applied to the movements. Usually, patients begin water exercise on the 5th week after surgery. Classes are held at a water temperature of +32°C, one session lasts half an hour.

The patient’s position and exercise technique depend on the location of the injury. If osteosynthesis of the humerus was performed, rehabilitation involves a standing position, the patient enters the water up to the neck or chest. After surgery on the lower leg or thigh, you need to lie on your stomach or back, a handrail helps to stay afloat. To restore the femur, walking in water is indicated.

Therapeutic exercise

During bed rest, the patient’s muscles atrophy and require development. Therapeutic exercise is aimed at improving blood circulation and muscle trophism. These activities also help in the prevention of pain caused by muscle clogging. This is necessary for good bone fusion.

At the first stage of exercise therapy, the patient is shown the following exercises:

  • Gradual flexion of the joints;
  • Performing circular movements;
  • Raising and lowering a limb.

A set of further exercises is determined individually. The first classes are held under the supervision of a rehabilitator, over time, the patient will be able to follow the recommendations on their own at home.

Therapeutic massage

The injured joint is massaged to improve blood circulation and relieve swelling. Massage sessions begin a few days after the operation. The first procedures are very gentle, the intervention area is simply stroked and tapped with fingers. At first, the massage is performed by a specialist in exercise therapy. During rehabilitation after osteosynthesis of the femoral neck or in another area of ​​the lower limb, over time, the patient will be able to perform manipulations independently.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy procedures do not require the active participation of patients. It is enough for them to be in a lying or sitting position. The complex of methods and the intensity of measures depend on the location of the fracture, the type of metal structures and the dynamics of recovery. During rehabilitation, the following procedures can be prescribed:

  • Magnetotherapy;
  • Manual therapy;
  • Electromyostimulation;
  • Mud treatment;
  • Inductothermy;
  • Interference currents;
  • PNF;
  • Electrophoresis and other procedures.

Physiotherapy starts from the first days of osteosynthesis rehabilitation of the femur, ankle and joints of the upper limb. As the bones fuse, the rehabilitation specialist excludes and adds procedures aimed at restoring certain functions.

Many patients stop attending physical therapy sessions after they leave the hospital. In their opinion, if the doctor let him go home, then the problem is solved and you can wait for the complete fusion of the bone. In reality, procedures are very important. They contribute to the proper fusion of bone tissue, help speed up rehabilitation and prevent complications associated with surgery and muscle atrophy.

Recovery period

At this point, the patient is already doing without crutches, walkers or other auxiliary and fixing devices. Limb function is fully restored, but a number of limitations remain in daily life. Therefore, the patient is prescribed special exercises for healing and accelerated tissue regeneration. In addition, they are aimed at restoring coordination of movements, strengthening and building muscle mass. For example, after osteosynthesis of the humerus, rehabilitation involves exercises with expanders, balls and other sports equipment.

During surgery on the lower limb, a gradual increase in the load on the leg is indicated. A person can walk in the yard, go to the store and do housework, but without lifting weights. In parallel, the patient attends massage sessions and physiotherapy.

After complete consolidation of the fracture, the doctors remove the hardware. With osteosynthesis of the femoral neck, rehabilitation takes up to 18 months, the clavicle of the shoulder and forearm – up to 12 months. In case of a complex fracture or injury after a serious accident, the recovery time may be increased.

Social rehabilitation

An important role in the postoperative period is played by social rehabilitation with the help of relatives. They must provide care for the patient and provide moral support. Relatives should be patient, even if the patient’s requests seem absurd or too frequent. It is important to understand that in such a difficult period a person wants to feel cared for or it is too difficult for him to perform seemingly easy actions.

The most difficult is for those whose relatives are undergoing rehabilitation after osteosynthesis of the hip, ankle or other area of ​​the lower limb. In the first days after such operations, it is difficult for patients to get out of bed, walk, manage their own natural needs, etc. There are no such problems with a fracture in the upper limbs.

If you have any questions or want to undergo treatment and rehabilitation after osteosynthesis of the femur, humerus and lower leg, please contact the R+ Medical Network clinic for help.

Highly qualified doctors work in our medical center:

  • Grigorovsky Vladimir Valerievich – orthopedist-traumatologist, more than 10 years of experience, doctor of the highest category;
  • Shugaliya Bogdan Vasilyevich – orthopedist-traumatologist, first category, more than 10 years of experience;
  • Parubets Maxim Nikolaevich – orthopedist-traumatologist, first category;
  • Duka Vladimir Anatolyevich – orthopedist-traumatologist, first category, more than 12 years of experience;
  • Galata Stepan Miroslavovich – surgeon, orthopedist-traumatologist, the highest category, more than 15 years of experience.

Author:

Grigorovsky Vladimir Valerievich

Orthopedist-traumatologist, the highest category, Experience 16 years

Frequently asked questions on osteosynthesis

Can I undergo rehabilitation at home?

When can I step on my foot after osteosynthesis?

How long to walk in a cast or fixative after osteosynthesis?

When can I walk without a cane?

When will I return to a full life without restrictions?

Other blog entries

Rehabilitation after a fracture of the collarbone: methods and exercises

Let’s consider the methods of rehabilitation after a fracture of the collarbone, recovery methods, rehabilitation, physical therapy exercises.

Contents

  • Rehabilitation
  • Recovery methods
  • Exercise therapy

Rehabilitation

One of the most common injuries is a fracture of the collarbone. In newborns, a fracture occurs with the rapid passage of the birth canal or the wrong actions of obstetricians. In adults and older children, a clavicle fracture occurs when a fall on the shoulder or as a result of a strong blow to the collarbone.

The period of rehabilitation depends on how quickly medical assistance was provided, and what methods were used. The rehabilitation period is the final and important stage, because the functions of the bone and shoulder in the future largely depend on it.

The bones of the clavicle grow together within a month, and a thickening forms in this place. The motor function is impaired. Its restoration is possible only after a complex of therapeutic and physical exercises.

Treatment of a clavicle fracture rarely requires surgery. The operation is performed in case of a compound fracture with displacement.

The fracture is treated by a traumatologist.

Initially, the clinician should:

  • put the bone in the correct position by pulling the shoulder up and back;
  • after a special plaster cast is applied to the fracture site;
  • then the fracture site is bandaged.

At the same time, the bandage is not rigid, which allows the hand to perform some of the actions that are necessary for rehabilitation. It takes place in three stages and allows you to fully restore motor activity. If the treatment and rehabilitation is carried out correctly, then the fracture will never remind of itself in the future.

Recovery methods

In case of a clavicle fracture without displacement, the rehabilitation period begins long before the bandage is removed. This is necessary for the speedy fusion of the bone, eliminating the stagnation of fluid and blood.

During the recovery period, the doctor prescribes a special set of procedures.

Physical activity can be accelerated by the following methods:

  • physiotherapy;
  • massage;
  • medical and prophylactic complex;
  • special diet.

The recovery period should be under the supervision of the attending physician.

Physiotherapy indicated as early as possible. To achieve a positive effect, it must be read a week after the fracture.

The following procedures are applied:

  1. UHF-therapy allows for a short period of time to reduce tissue swelling and relieve pain.
  2. Magnetotherapy. During therapy, the lesion site is exposed to a constant and alternating magnetic field. For the procedure, special devices are used. This improves the fusion of bone tissue, while significantly reducing the risk of complications. The procedure can be carried out even through a plaster cast.
  3. Interference currents can speed up the process of edema resorption, relieve pain. Carry out the procedure in the following way. On the area of ​​the body where there is no plaster cast, 4 electrodes are fixed. If it is necessary to fix them precisely on the gypsum area, then special holes are cut in the bandage.
  4. Electrophoresis is used to accelerate the process of bone formation. During the procedure, areas of tissue are affected by current. The duration of the procedure is no more than 20 minutes. The positive effect is visible already after 10 procedures.
  5. Paraffin applications and mud therapy are effective.

The presented list of procedures allows you to improve blood circulation and thus speed up the healing process.

Attention ! If the fracture of the clavicle is without complications, then massage procedures are prescribed. They are prescribed on the 10th day after the fracture. The masseur massages healthy tissues near the fracture, which has a beneficial effect on the entire upper limb.

At the first stage, the masseur’s movements should be light and calm, so as not to cause additional discomfort to the patient. For the procedure, apply a special oil or cream. After removing the bandage, you can gradually move on to increasing the intensity of the massage.

During the rehabilitation period, a person needs to eat a diet rich in calcium. For better absorption, vitamin D is needed. Silicon will allow the body to synthesize its own calcium.

The following products should be preferred:

  • milk;
  • cottage cheese;
  • fish;
  • aspic;
  • jelly;
  • currant.

Attention! It is worth limiting the intake of smoked and pickled foods, as well as completely abandoning coffee, black tea and alcohol.

If all doctor’s instructions are followed, the arm can be completely developed in a short period of time.

Exercise therapy exercises

Therapeutic and prophylactic complex is prescribed even before the bandage is removed. The first exercises are to work with the fingers and hand. It is forbidden to raise the arm and develop the shoulder joint.

Movement should be light and fluid, with few repetitions. The ideal option is a few minutes a day.

If during the exercise the patient experiences discomfort, it is necessary to stop and postpone them until a later time.

In case of a displaced clavicle fracture, rehabilitation after surgery begins only after all sutures have been removed.

Attention ! Exercises are selected individually, taking into account the nature and degree of damage, as well as the general well-being of the patient.

Most often exercise therapy is carried out in three stages. Let’s consider each of them in more detail.

The first stage of restorative medicine begins immediately after the cast and continues until the bandage is removed. During the day, the patient must perform at least 5 approaches, each exercise should be performed 10 times. After completion, a short break is required.

List of exercises at the first stage:

  1. Reduction and separation of fingers on the injured hand.
  2. Flexion and extension of the arm into a fist. In this case, the thumb must be bent alternately either to the inner or to the outer surface.
  3. Click each finger.
  4. Rotate in a circle with each finger.
  5. Hand movements up and down, to the sides.
  6. Wrist circles.

After removing the bandage, the exercises are aimed at flexion and extension of the injured arm in the elbow joint.

Attention! Rehabilitation after a fracture of the clavicle with displacement is carried out under the supervision of a physician.

Exercises at the second stage:

  1. Put your palms on your shoulders and raise and lower your elbows.
  2. Circular movements of the elbows at least 10 times.
  3. The well-known windmill exercise, only swing movements are made back and forth.
  4. Raising and lowering up and down straightened arms with a gymnastic stick.
  5. Swinging cross movements with arms slightly tilting the body forward.

The duration of this stage depends on the degree of the fracture and the age characteristics of the patient. Basically, it’s 20 days.

The third stage involves the development of the limbs until the full restoration of motor function.

Rehabilitation after fracture of the collarbone includes exercises:

  1. The patient holds a special gymnastic ball over his head. Leaning forward, pushes the ball between the legs.
  2. Tossing and catching a special ball.
  3. Holding dumbbells in the hands, the patient performs successive raises of the arms above the head.

To date, many recovery complexes have been developed that include rehabilitation exercises after a displaced clavicle fracture, the videos of which can be found here.