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Experience with broken collarbone please.(17 posts)

Experience with broken collarbone please.Len J
Dec 18, 2002 4:34 AM
Can anyone who has had a broken collarbone where the bone has seperated please share your healing experiences.

How long did it take to be pain free?
How long before you could do everything you did before the break, without being conscious of the injury?
Did you have it surgically pinned?

I broke mine (Right) on 9/21 (12 1/2 weeks ago) & it doesn't seem to be healing. I am still aware of it & have to limit what I pick up with my right arm. I still can't sleep on that side. Am I stuck with this for the rest of my life (if I don't have surgery), or is there hope?


That's really a question for a doctor ...bsdc
Dec 18, 2002 5:16 AM
12 weeks is plenty of time for most fractures to heal. If you are still having problems, you need to get it checked out.
That's really a question for a doctor ...Len J
Dec 18, 2002 5:20 AM
I have a followup in early Jan. MD has said they will do a cat scan at that point and make a decision on surgery. I was just looking for others experience.

re: Experience with broken collarbone please.mleptuck
Dec 18, 2002 5:24 AM
Hey Len,
I've busted my right collarbone twice in one calendar year about 17 years ago.

My first injury was a result of absorbing a massive body check in a hockey game when my shoulders were perfectly perpendicular to the boards. I finished the game, surprisingly enough, and had a hell of a time sleeping on it that night, so I convinced my dad to take me to the ER (I was 15 at the time). X-rays showed it was a total break, and the two ends happened to be overlapped due to my continued playing. I got set up with a figure-eight harness and some pain meds (no pins), and sent home to suffer.

Like a dopey 15-year-old trying to get to a higher level of hockey, I rushed back too soon and broke it again. I was told by the docs I'd need about 4 weeks (I think) in the harness, and then I might be practicing in 2-4 weeks after that (6-8 weeks total from time of injury). I went back out after 6 weeks total, and when I took my first slapshot in a game, broke it again. Same procedure this time, but I didn't bother with a trip to the hospital, since I still had my splint.

So, I took a total of eight weeks off this time and all was okay. I limited my exposure to hits along the boards (tough when you play wing), and went with the wrist shot whenever I could.

To be honest, for about an entire year afterwards, I had trouble trusting it, and feeling like it could handle a good hit. I tried to strengthen the surrounding muscle as much as possible, and it was extremely sore for over a year (particularly in low barometric-pressure days). After the second break, it healed at about 5-10 degrees short of straight, and I've got a large calcium deposit where the ends met, so it's kind of freaky to look at, too.

Having broken my jaw, various fingers and my humerus over the years playing hockey, I can say the collarbone was the most painful and hardest to mentally recover from. It just takes time and patience. Sleeping will probably be uncomfortable for a long time (mine still bothers me if I sleep on it too long), but the strength and confidence WILL return, it just takes a while.

sorry to hear its comming along slowlySpirito
Dec 18, 2002 5:48 AM
before i add my bits i must add that everyone heals differently and no 2 injuries are alike. seek opinion from the experts.

but you asked ...

broken, screwed and plate added. major ligament damage in adjoining shoulder and the doc wasn't too optimistic. i would say i recovered about 95%. regaining movement was more awkward and painfull than other injuries and breaks i have had (apart from broken jaw). slowly increased movement, it improves with time. actually started off trying to play pool and swimming after sometime. taking up yoga was probably the best thing that someone mentioned - be sure to advise your teacher.

completely pain free was at least 3 months from my accident. it was maybe 6 months before i was no longer consciously favoring the side with the previously damaged collarbone although i recall not sleeping on that side for some time following.

although in saying that, i am still prone to lead or pick up from, or lift from the otherside as a consequence. im not lame, and in fact the opposite, but i know i stretch out for things and have slightly fuller range of movement with my other side (which was never broken - just dislocated).

i damaged mine last when i was 18; im no expert and i dont play one on TV either but i would think recovery is quicker when young.

i hope recovery quickens for you and am wishing that you are soon to ride and no longer be thwarted by it.

Yup, displaced clavicle fracture. Know it well.....stacker
Dec 18, 2002 6:31 AM
Broke mine back in late Sept mountain biking. It took me about 4 weeks before I could do 1 push up again. At 6 weeks I was doing a few more. I was mainly concerned with building up the supporting muscle to aid healing. I checked with the specialist first though. He had mentioned pinning it but I decided against having it done. It meant more time off the bikes and I could live with the lump on my shoulder anyway. At 6 weeks I was riding my road bike for short rides at a slower pace with minimal discomfort. At 8 weeks I was back on the mtn bike, but taking it cautiously. Today I still have some discomfort at times and when trying to move my arm at weird angles but nothing too bad. I am fully back to my old self now as far as riding is concerned.
Broke mine 20+ years ago. Still hurts sometimes.MB1
Dec 18, 2002 6:45 AM
Pain tolerance has a lot to do with your ability to remain active while your collarbone heals. I know someone who did a triathlon 1 week after breaking his collarbone (Swimming? OUCH!).

It took me several weeks before I was comfortable riding (although I was back on the bike commuting (very slowly) in the first week).

Good luck.

BTW have you tried your SO's recumbent?
SO's recumbent is too small but.............Len J
Dec 18, 2002 7:03 AM
I am thinking of borrowing a loaner, in my size, from my LBS in order to stop the aerobic deterioration.

I pick up My new bike on Saturday and I want to ride it.

This really sucks.
I know, I'm feeling sorry for myself but here I am.

Broken 1/91-had surgery4/91-messengered again 6/91. (nm)onespeed
Dec 18, 2002 8:02 AM
What happened between break & Surgery? nmLen J
Dec 18, 2002 8:34 AM
Ortho doc wanted to see if it would heal on its own. (nm)onespeed
Dec 18, 2002 8:36 AM
just be patientphlegm
Dec 18, 2002 8:48 AM
I broke my left clavicle a couple years ago. It seemed to take forever to heal. It was completely seperated, but it didn't break the skin. So I had a sling and pain meds. It took me three months before I really felt comfortable without the sling for long periods of time. I slept on my back every night. I did two months of physical therapy after the three months just to gain 90% of my flexibility and strength back.

The other thing to consider is where it was seperated. Mine seperated just about in the middle, so it healed up pretty nicely. I know a guy who broke it near the shoulder joint, and it never totally healed up. So he has a permanently seperated clavicle.
Broke mine when I was a kid.RoyGBiv
Dec 18, 2002 11:20 AM
While playing sandlot football, on Labour Day weekend, 1967. Funny, I vividly recall not being able to sleep that night, because of the pain. I got out of bed, sat in the living room and stared out the front window, watching Venus fade as the dawn broke. Sorry, I digress. Not sure what you mean by the "separated' kind of broken collar bone. You mean the clavicle has come away from the shoulder? Mine broke near the right shoulder, but I foolishly "came back" too soon. The pain was gone, it seems, within a week and I was raring to go. I started playing sandlot football again in late October before it was completely healed, causing a slight deformity in my shoulder. But I didn't know that one shoulder was lopsided until many years later when a tailor pointed it out during a suit fitting.
We were young and foolish then, but now a little older things take more time to mend. I'd give it a rest till it's completely healed.
Dec 18, 2002 12:40 PM
Yesterday I was surfing around over at our sister There is a regular poster over there named duckman. From what i gather he is also very into mountain biking as well as hiking etc. He broke his collarbone around the same time as you and has posted several times about how he's dealing with it.
Go over there and search for his posts or page him... unless of course you are duckman??????
Here's my experiencenovagator
Dec 18, 2002 1:04 PM
Broke the right clavicle this past June...Dr said it would be 3 months before I could ride again on the road, but that I could ride the trainer after 4 weeks. Started on the trainer and it hurt putting weight on the right side. Anyway, kept riding the trainer and adding more weight and for longer times on the right side. Finally, after 2 months, I had enough of riding the trainer and did a couple of short rides on the road. Went to the Dr a week later and he cleared me to resume riding. I rode a century about 3 weeks later (although, not sure I shouldn't have used the metric cutoff :). But, 6 months later I still have the lump where the bones healed uneven (a common thing with collarbones) and it still hurts if I lay on that side without proper neck support (read: I have to prop up my head on pillows so that the weight is on them and not my shoulder). Pretty much have full range of motion back. The clavicle is basically a strut between the sternum and shoulder, makes it hard to "reduce" for healing, like with other bones.

Didn't have mine pinned and as I mentioned, still exprience pain at times.
broken in 2 places 7-21 of this yearlonefrontranger
Dec 19, 2002 1:46 PM
Mine was complete break in 2 places with splinters and a 1st degree AC separation. I highsided in a P/1/2/3 crit and t-boned the curb with my right shoulder.

It has healed with a big bump and about 1.5 cm "overlap" in the center. There's not much to be done about that, I'll just have a crooked right shoulder, to match my crooked left forearm from another bike crash suffered in my early days.

Everyone's different. I'm 34 years old and anyone who knows me would call me a stubbon old b1tch, so I was back on the trainer in a week, back on the bike on the road in 3 weeks (Dr. had a fit, and he's a bike racer too), and raced in another P/1/2/3 field 28 days after the break. Course was pretty hilly so it hurt like a mother**** standing climbing, but I finished in the field.

Still hurts to do overhead weight work, even really light weights, so I'm doing Theraband crap in the gym. My PT and I both came to the conclusion that my mild AC separation has reared its ugly head with the weight work. So we're doing quite a bit of rotator cuff type therapy to combat "frozen shoulder" syndrome. It's helped a lot. I have found, after multiple broken bones, that the bone healing process is the least of your worries. I actually had less pain riding the bike at 4 weeks after the break than I did at 8 weeks because "frozen shoulder" was beginning to set in. The soft tissue surrounding the break seems to be where most of the pain and problems occur. In my very unscientific opinion, I've decided that we subconsciously allow the connective tissue around the break to tighten up in an attempt to "support" or move load from the break, which causes more stiffness and pain than the break itself. If you don't do adequate stretching / limbering and therapy to combat this, it's a downward spiral.
Thanks All for the replies..........Len J
Dec 19, 2002 3:02 PM
I go back 1/10/03 & get a cat scan & see if it's healing. If not, it's surgery.

I have been doing Tai Chi which has kept my shoulder limber & loose so that's not a worry. I have been off the bike for 10 weeks while my Broken back healed. MD wants me off the bike till 1/10 but I get my new bike Sat & I think Its time to get back in shape.

Sounds like it's one of those things that just hurts for a while.

Thanks Again all.