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how long do broken collarbones take to heal?(13 posts)

how long do broken collarbones take to heal?weiwentg
Apr 7, 2002 11:21 PM
some maniac crashed on the finishing straightaway. I grabbed my front brake - heaven only knows why I didn't hit both brakes!!! - and my rear wheel lifted off. I released the brake, and hit the downed rider. as a result, my collarbone now has an s-bend in it :(
there are no splinters but it's broken in 2 places. I'm hopefully seeing an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow. how long is this going to take to heal?
Boy, wish I could tell you.Leisure
Apr 7, 2002 11:54 PM
Sorry about the stroke of bad luck! I fractured mine (with splinters, no complete breakage) when I was a kid; Given the difference in age and breakage, I wouldn't try to guess if the time frame will be at all alike. I only needed to wear a brace for a few weeks, and didn't abuse it for a good long while. One of the things that sucked was when the brace came off the bone wasn't symmetric with the other side. Apparently that's common, and the doctor stated it would never be symmetric again. At first I thought it was true, and a year later it was still uneven. Then I just stopped paying attention to it, and several years later I took a good hard look and realized that in fact it was completely symmetric. I learned in college that bones undergo slow remodeling in response to loading, which is a cool thing in my book. I wonder if all the weightlifting during highschool and college played a role. Hope yours takes less time than mine!
re: how long do broken collarbones take to heal?RolandF
Apr 8, 2002 2:56 AM
I had mine broken in a motorcycle accident about 4 years ago, but mine was splintered at the fracture. In my case, I was off work for about 3 months, and in a brace for about two of those months. To this day I still have a lump where the bone grew thicker around the splintered area, but no lasting effects.

re: how long do broken collarbones take to heal?MikeC
Apr 8, 2002 5:01 AM
As an ex-rugby player, I have a little experience with collar bones. Fortunately, I was in my teens, so I'm not sure how age affects things.
Everyone I know who broke their collar bone just wore a sling, and no surgery was necessary. I had two breaks, and each time wore a sling for about three or four weeks, started running again after six weeks, and resumed contact after about twelve weeks.
The important thing is to break it early enough in the season...
re: how long do broken collarbones take to heal?feathers mcgraw
Apr 8, 2002 5:21 AM
If you read up on it you'll find some really divergent opinions. Mine broke in 2-3 places. Originally the orthopedist said 4-6 weeks, but didn't give me a clean bill of health 'til the three month mark because of the complexity of the break. I was riding a stationary bike in a week, on the road (but on a mtb) in three weeks. Try to keep as much of your fitness as possible, it'll keep your spirits up. You may find it more comfortable to sleep on a couch in a sitting position. Though your arm will be in a sling, make sure you occasionally flex your elbow to keep it loose. Once you're out of the sling you'll be able to do a lot of things, but don't lift anything heavy until the doctor clears you. Good luck.
been thereRideLots
Apr 8, 2002 5:26 AM
I broke mine about 4 years ago, about a year after a 3rd degree separation of the same shoulder. Endo's both times.

I got on a trainer and rode in about a week, not using that arm. Two weeks after that I was on the road, being very careful. I did the Climb to Kaiser (155 miles, 13,000 ft climbing) for the first time about 2 months after the brake.

I'd say I was "healed" in 4-6 weeks. My strength was built up again in about 8 weeks.

Worse experience than the other posters.Spoke Wrench
Apr 8, 2002 5:47 AM
I had to have mine surgically pinned - twice. The first time the orthopod used dissolvable pins and told me to feel free to be as active as I was comfortable with. He didn't say that a week later when he used ti screws and bailing wire to redo it.

Seems like I spend 6 or 8 weeks sleeping on a recliner chair and about 6 months off of the bike. Then, when I started riding again, I endoed on my mountain bike and broke it again. I got a BUNCH of advice from my wife and one of my sons after that episode, but the second break felt healed in just a couple of weeks.
Depends . . .speedisgood
Apr 8, 2002 6:42 AM
Sorry to hear about your luck! I broke mine a few years back. Endo'd and landed on my head and the tip of my left shoulder. Fractured the clavicle into 4 pieces! If you looked at the front view x-ray, I had 4 shards arranged in a loose diamond shape (technically, a comminuted fx with angulation.) Not a typical fracture pattern.

Because of the separation between the bone bits, my fx took about 6 weeks to feel better and it was about 8 weeks before I could really use the arm. Even then I was limited to about 90 degrees of elevation (forward) and to the side.

Since you have a "simple" fx (2 pieces, skin not broken) your collarbone should feel more solid in 2-4 weeks as long as the bones are close to each other. Six weeks on the outside. At this point, you'll have what's called a "callous" forming around the fx site. This is a fibrous connective tissue that solidifies the joint and is a framework for bone to be laid down upon. Once this callous forms, then you'll be "healed" from an activity standpoint. That means you can ride as long as you don't have pain. However, the actual process of bony healing will take 1 to 1.5 years.

For now, take some anti-inflammatories for pain (ibuprofen or naproxen), ice your shoulder for 20-30 min x 1-3 times a day, rest your arm in a sling, and try to keep you shoulders BACK (sit up straight and generally have good posture for the next 2 weeks.)

This is important. If you slouch forward, your collarbone ends will overlap and heal in a shortened length. That's why docs usually put people in figure-8 braces (it pulls the shoulders back and allows the broken ends of the collarbone to align properly.)

Anyway, that's my 2 cent online medical advice. Oh yeah, do what your doctor tells ya!

Go Blue!

PS Joe Friel recommends riding on the trainer (when you're cleared) with your bars turned all the way over so you can grap the bottom of the drops.
re: how long do broken collarbones take to heal?maximum15
Apr 8, 2002 8:42 AM
About 12 years ago (when I was 35), I caught a pedal in a curve (very stupid) and broke mine. Orthopedic surgeon said it was borderline for pinning -- my choice for "figure 8" brace or pin. My motto is don't cut if you don't have to. I had to wear the sling for about 8 weeks.
Welcome to the "broken collarbone" clubPsyDoc
Apr 8, 2002 8:49 AM
I broke my right collarbone in a collision with a 60-70 pound hell-demon dog on August 12th, 2000. Once the dog took me down, he came back around to finish his attack, but luckily the people I was riding with kept chasing him off. I was in that pain-in-the-butt clavicle strap/splint for about 4 weeks. The doc told me that there will come a point when you are more comfortable out of the strap than in it. He was right, but even after the 4 weeks, I had very limited movement in my right shoulder and I still have some sensory nerve damage in that area as well. About 10 months later, the sensory nerve damage healed and I could once again feel when someone was touching my upper arm. My collar bone improved greatly over the next couple of weeks, but I was also trying to throw the tennis ball for my dogs and just using my right arm more. I tried golfing about 3 months after the accident and all was fine until I took a little too much dirt on one swing and the reverberation was not much so that I simply walked off the course after the 4th hole. My collarbone break was not a clean break, though. The break was somewhat similar to a "crush" as it had 5 splintered off pieces. I was back on the bike at about the 4-4.5 week point, but on a trainer. I might have been back on the trainer sooner, but I also fractured my pelvis in the same accident and could not walk for 3 weeks. Riding on the trainer was a "might tender", but not from the collarbone area. I was actually out riding on the road at the 6-week point as that is when the doc cleared me to go riding again. When you do get back on the road, definitely avoid potholes and any other road imperfection that could cause a jolt.
that sucks, weiwentg, hope you heal quick.gregg
Apr 8, 2002 8:59 AM
I haven't broken my collarbone myself (knock on wood), but a buddy of mine broke his by tripping on the sidewalk. Simple break, doctor's told him 6 to 8 weeks, but he was fine in 4. Fully recovered by 6.

Crits are exciting (tight, fast packs, lots of juggling for position), but the chance for a crash is definitely higher than in other types of road races.

So did you find out what the hell caused the guy to go down in front of you?

re: how long do broken collarbones take to heal?brider
Apr 8, 2002 9:23 AM
My left collar bone was in 3 pieces after a MTB race crash in May 10 years ago. Shot my whole season. I was on a trainer by Wednesday (the crash was on Sunday), but didn't get back on the road for another 2 months, and gingerly at that (no aero-bar riding, smooth roads only). I was also a triathlete at the time, and it took about a year before I could do backstroke comfortably. So the total answer is this: if it'a a minor break with no separation, 6 weeks. Anything more severe will lengthen that time. The bone WILL heal back stronger than it was, but that's a long-term proposition. Yup, I've got a pretty good lump there to this day.
re: how long do broken collarbones take to heal?Ironbutt
Apr 8, 2002 2:58 PM
Oh, yes indeed. Welcome to the wonderful world of the crunched collarbone. I managed to shear the end off of my right clavicle (along with fracturing the scapula and tearing the rotator cuff) about two years ago. The orthopaedic surgeon had a hissy fit, but I was stoking a recumbent tandem two weeks later and back on my bike in eight weeks. It hurt like bloody hell, and the orthopaed was almightily ticked at my antics. I used my Camelbak yesterday for the first time without discomfort, but my suits still don't fit quite right. My wife says that I healed even more kinky than I was before. But I'm pain free, thankfully.