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Old 10-19-10, 06:29 PM   #1
KendallF
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Let's hear your broken collarbone plate operation experiences..

Figured I'd post this here as we likely have a good cross section of racers who've crashed, broken their collarbones, and had a plate installed.

I found out today that I broke my left collarbone in a crash last week; the initial ER x-rays missed the break and it's been separating the past few days as I wondered why I wasn't recovering faster. The ortho took some follow-up x-rays today and I was blathering on about not having any breaks..the tech paused and said, "Are you sure?" It's about 1/2" separated now..

After some review of my options, I'm going in Thursday to screw it back together with a plate. If you've had this operation, I'd like to hear how long recovery took you, when you got back on the bike, whether you had any long term impairment of the shoulder, complications, etc.
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Old 10-19-10, 08:43 PM   #2
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I broke mine on July 3rd. I had the surgery a week later, nine screws and a plate. The surgery went really well. I got to the hospital at 9 and was home by 3. 3 days in a sling and that was it. I got back on the bike in 4 weeks and did a 4 day block without any pain, but the more I read about the time it takes to fully heal, the more I realized it was stupid so I gave it until week 8. Since then I have been doing 9-10 hour weeks. I had no complications from the surgery to speak of. I still don't sleep well when I am on my side and laying on the side of the break. There is a little numbness below the incision. However, I was pain free within a couple of days and took nothing stronger than ibuprofen for the first 3 days. My surgeon gave me the option of trying to let it heal without surgery, but after this experience, I am sure that if I have another break I will opt for surgery.
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Old 10-19-10, 08:51 PM   #3
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Broke mine a couple of years ago in a motorcycle race. Sloppy lowside and my shoulder took the brunt. Felt it pop twice and then my head hit. Two fractures with the piece in the middle a nice parallelogram that turned sideways.

Surgery 3 days after the crash for a plate. The worst part about the plate was that it's so close to the surface that the skin above the screw heads and over the edges was extremely sensitive. Took about 18 months for it to feel 'normal.' The second worst part was that the surgeon cut the nerve that transmits sensations from the skin over my right pectoral muscle. It still feels like I have a cobweb that's being dragged over the area whenever something touches it. It's better now, but still noticeable.

Six months post opp the doc had to go in and clean out the AC joint. The wreck aggravated a previous unknown injury and all but locked up the joint.
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Old 10-20-10, 05:55 AM   #4
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Sack up Sally. I expect to see you for the centuries this weekend.
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Old 10-20-10, 07:37 AM   #5
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Of the friends I know who've had it, recovery was (to me) surprisingly fast.

I also have a couple acquaintances who let it heal "naturally" and they have an ugly odd bump now... I would not recommend that approach.
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Old 10-20-10, 08:52 AM   #6
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Went down Labor Day weekend - crushed scaffoid and and a Grade 5 Separation in my shoulder. Wish I had broken my collarbone, instead as the bone came out it tore everything up in my shoulder but thankfully didn't come through the skin. Mine is not plated back together it is more like an anchor bolt and artificial tendons holding it back together.
I was told for me it is about 3 months until healed. As it is the end of the season I guess I just have to make due with letting it heal. Do your best to follow the do's orders (I however don't listen all that well)
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Old 10-20-10, 09:12 AM   #7
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Thanks people..hope that my experience is as positive as yours, king-tony and jwible.

Ken: I was thinking about it before I learned I'd be getting cut on tomorrow..now not so much. :-)
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Old 10-20-10, 09:33 AM   #8
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Thanks people..hope that my experience is as positive as yours, king-tony and jwible.

Ken: I was thinking about it before I learned I'd be getting cut on tomorrow..now not so much. :-)
You know, Grant won the state championship RR last year with a cast on his arm...
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Old 10-20-10, 10:49 AM   #9
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I broke mine on July 3rd. I had the surgery a week later, nine screws and a plate. The surgery went really well. I got to the hospital at 9 and was home by 3. 3 days in a sling and that was it. I got back on the bike in 4 weeks and did a 4 day block without any pain, but the more I read about the time it takes to fully heal, the more I realized it was stupid so I gave it until week 8. Since then I have been doing 9-10 hour weeks. I had no complications from the surgery to speak of. I still don't sleep well when I am on my side and laying on the side of the break. There is a little numbness below the incision. However, I was pain free within a couple of days and took nothing stronger than ibuprofen for the first 3 days. My surgeon gave me the option of trying to let it heal without surgery, but after this experience, I am sure that if I have another break I will opt for surgery.

I broke mine last January. I'd write out my experience, but it's almost exactly this. It does take the starch out of your shorts for a while. I don't know how the pro's do it and then get on a bike 2 or 3 days later. It was about 3 weeks after the surgery and about 4 weeks after the break before I was riding.
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Old 10-20-10, 06:02 PM   #10
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You know, Grant won the state championship RR last year with a cast on his arm...
But Grant is a bad ass
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Old 10-20-10, 06:22 PM   #11
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But Grant is a bad ass
Ouch.
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Old 10-21-10, 10:34 AM   #12
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Broke mine in February and decided to let it heal naturally. The break was at the very outer end of the bone, which is more likely to be problematic than the usual mid-bone break. Didn't ride again for 8 weeks, but didn't try to push it either, so probably could have been riding earlier. My own impression is that if I'd had a plate in there I'd be more willing to push things early, knowing the bone was protected with armor and all...
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Old 10-25-10, 07:24 AM   #13
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How was the operation, KF?
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Old 10-25-10, 10:44 AM   #14
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Operation was absolutely no big deal. Shoulder immediately felt better than before (no floating around feeling, no pain from the bone ends grinding). I am off all of the pain meds as of today (Monday) and I'm at work. Sleeping sucks still as I'm in a recliner for most of the night. I plan on getting back on the trainer tonight.

I think I may have some nerve damage as I have a numb spot on the front of the deltoid. I had some pain there that stopped this weekend..some time later I noticed the numbness. Not sure if they're connected or not.

All in all, I would do the surgery again, in a heart beat. I'll post to this thread occasionally as I recover, just for anybody else in the same boat.
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Old 10-25-10, 10:46 AM   #15
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glad to hear it went well.
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Old 10-25-10, 11:39 AM   #16
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glad to hear it went well.
Yeup!
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Old 10-25-10, 11:53 AM   #17
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Operation was absolutely no big deal. Shoulder immediately felt better than before (no floating around feeling, no pain from the bone ends grinding). I am off all of the pain meds as of today (Monday) and I'm at work. Sleeping sucks still as I'm in a recliner for most of the night. I plan on getting back on the trainer tonight.

I think I may have some nerve damage as I have a numb spot on the front of the deltoid. I had some pain there that stopped this weekend..some time later I noticed the numbness. Not sure if they're connected or not.

All in all, I would do the surgery again, in a heart beat. I'll post to this thread occasionally as I recover, just for anybody else in the same boat.
The numbness may go away after awhile. I had some numbness in my right hand (pinkie and ring finger) from landing on my head in May that cleared up by the end of July.
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Old 10-25-10, 02:47 PM   #18
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I broke my clavicle in 3 places. The x-rays originally showed 2 breaks and the surgeon said he was a little surprised to find the 3rd break after he opened me up. I took seven screws and a plate. It stayed in for 8-9 months. My clavicle isn't quite straight and the small bumpy protrusion on top of the shoulder dissappeared. But it healed up better than if I never had the surgery.
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Old 10-25-10, 04:08 PM   #19
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I rode around the block tonight just to say I did it 3 days after the surgery. Nobody ever gave me points for brains.

..it felt pretty good, actually. Better than riding last week when I didn't know it was broken. The trainer, on the other hand, SUCKED.
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Old 10-25-10, 04:14 PM   #20
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I wish I had the surgery. Mine was broken clean through in half, and it took forever to friggin heal without surgery. Ends of bones rubbing against each other, and all that good stuff. Then all the muscles around my neck and shoulder tightened up to help out, which lasted for a few months... no good!
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Old 10-29-10, 04:59 AM   #21
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I just broke my clavicle on wednesday in 2-3 place and have an appt with an orth in about 2 hours. I've never had surgery before but I'm thinking I'd rather just bite the bullet, have a plate put it and be done with it.

Does the plate always have to be removed at some point?
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Old 10-29-10, 10:33 AM   #22
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I just broke my clavicle on wednesday in 2-3 place and have an appt with an orth in about 2 hours. I've never had surgery before but I'm thinking I'd rather just bite the bullet, have a plate put it and be done with it.

Does the plate always have to be removed at some point?
Not always, only if it bothers you. Usually you have to wait a while from 6 months to a year after surgery for the plate to be removed.
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Old 10-29-10, 10:57 AM   #23
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just got back from the doc and it looks like im getting my plate installed next wednesday. hopefully it doesn't bother me long term.
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Old 10-29-10, 11:51 AM   #24
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just got back from the doc and it looks like im getting my plate installed next wednesday. hopefully it doesn't bother me long term.
good luck! Make sure they document and mark the correct side of your clavicle before you get knocked out. OR Staff missed mines and had to be vigilant before they put me to sleep.
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Old 04-27-12, 08:01 AM   #25
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digging up an old thread, but it has some good info and leads to some questions on my situation.

im 4 weeks post surgery, plate and 9 screws, for a distal clavicle fracture. i was on the trainer 6 days post surgery. recovery is going well, almost seems fast, and i am ready to ride outside. of course, the Ortho gives me the general speech, wait 2 to 3 more weeks. in fact he suggest at that point i will be released from care. outside of the unforeseen, i cannot imagine that easy rides on smooth roads, right now, would be an issue.

from a racers standpoint i am looking to hear when you were back on the road, back to training hard, and back to racing.

my crash wiped out winters worth of hard work that me positioned for success in April, which was my goal. much thanks. later.
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