"The 33"-Road Bike Racing - Advice for recovering from broken collarbone
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05-24-09, 05:27 AM
I finally did it. I go swept up in a crash at the Tour of Frankenmuth in Michigan in the last mile and took a monster hit that broke my collarbone. I know alot of guys on this forum have to had the same injury. There are telling me it is a clean break. I'm just curious how long some of you guys were off the bike. The doc is telling me 6-8 weeks.
I knew it was going to happen the way the race was setting up. I had no teamates, and went of the front twice, but couldn't get anyone to come with me. The course is completetly flat so almost everyone was there at the end. I knew it was going to happen at somepoint, but I was really riding well so far this year.
05-24-09, 05:32 AM
rest...and immobilize as much as possible...duh.
05-24-09, 08:14 AM
Did mine near this time last year, broken in 3 pieces, almost went compound.
1. It will amazingly put itself back together and heal more or less correctly on it's own. Where the sling/brace if recommended and just try to minimize the terrible pain.
2. Try to keep it from getting re-injured through use. Don't push it early on.
3.Get on the trainer as soon the pain allows. It will make a huge difference in not loosing fitness.
4. When you can get back on the road, take it easy at first and stay out of the drops.
It took me about 3-4 weeks to get back on the bike, and then another 3-4 to get back in shape to near where I was. It will happen.
05-24-09, 10:39 AM
Go all Tyler Hamilton on your c-bone.
05-24-09, 10:48 AM
I just rode the trainer and listened to the docs. Give in to the hunger, if it hits you. When the bone was really healing fast, I was crazy hungry, eating a ton, and losing weight.
05-24-09, 11:25 AM
When I broke mine, I was riding my bike to class (against doc's orders) about a week and a half later. I was riding with one hand, but I was still riding. I didn't start riding road bikes for any kind of distance again until almost a month after the crash.
The doc basically said if it doesn't hurt you can do it. since the collarbone is not a critical bone, that means you can regain a lot of ROM (range of motion) and basic functionality pretty quickly
FWIW, I was 20 at the time, and I healed pretty fast.
Broke mine 3 times over a two year span (though I was mostly mountain biking at the time). My advice:
1) Relax, and eat. Collarbones heal very quickly.
2) PT to strengthen/balance the shoulder. Doc should prescribe this.
3) Do not take too many painkillers.
4) Learn to self love with the other hand.
05-24-09, 09:46 PM
1. Get the deluxe sling, forget the cheap POS bag they gave you at ER or whatever. You want a sling with a bis shaped foam pad that goes between your side and arm. Carefully adjust all the straps and velcro so your shoulder is pulled back into the correct poisition to align the clavicle
2. Wear that sucker 7 x 24, except for in the shower, and try and minimize all use fof that arm for at least 3 or 4 weeks.
3. you will need to learn to sleep on your back wearing the sling.
4. I did none of the above, resumed running and riding at 2 weeks, and had surgery to bolt the collarbone back together, after 4 months of a non healing break
I had surgery so probably not the best example. I was "riding" a recumbent bike at the gym a few days later, was on my bike on a trainer I think 4 days after surgery and outside about a week later. I hadn't really given it much thought, but as wr said I lost weight despite less exercise...
05-24-09, 11:41 PM
Yeah, I ran stairs the day after my break (no surgery), and was on the trainer one-armed the day after that.
05-25-09, 07:21 PM
I broke my right collar bone 5 weeks ago and I got pretty poor medical attention concerning it. The DRs I saw didn't take it seriously, so I didn't get much advice on how to treat it. I wore the sling for maybe 3 days. I was careful in the things I was doing, but basically treated myself like I hadn't broken it. 1 week later I went out for a ride to "test" it and it didn't hurt too bad. Now, I have full motion back, with some pain. I can do the freestyle in the pool, but there is slight discomfort. From what I can tell and feel, I think I have a mal-union, which I may get fixed at some point, but I'm going to give it some more time. I've been riding maybe 3-4 times a week since my first test ride, and this past weekend I rode 10hours over 3 days with no increase in pain at all. I'm 27 and I've ways been in shape and eaten healthy. I think it the break will affect people differently.
I'm pretty ticked at the lack of medical care I got over it, but luckily it's turned out not to be a big deal.
Also, I was riding with 2 buddies who have 3 broken collar bones between them and they pretty much just say go with how it feels. If it hurts without the sling, wear the sling, if not, don't wear and just be careful
05-25-09, 08:08 PM
I got hit by a car about 2 weeks ago. Stay off of BF for a week and any physical activity if possible and don't move your arm, as much as possible.
See a specialist. My situation is a clean break and some ligament dmg. No surgery required, 4-6 wks, although I'm thinking considerably more after factoring in physical therapy and such. I will get on the trainer once I see my doctor again after 2 weeks and he gives me the go-ahead to do that.
I couldn't move my arm at all for the first week because of the pain but now it seems a lot better, although that might have just been the pain medications :D
05-25-09, 08:25 PM
I was in a bit of a weird situation. I am a former pitcher so my shoulder was already pretty chewed up. He gave me the sling for under a week and then said no more. He was worried about my shoulder "freezing" and that he said was a major deal so he wanted some use and movement.
It was way hard not to use the arm when it's right there in front of you, and every time you try something you reinjure it a bit and it hurts like $(&*#!.
05-26-09, 08:49 AM
Get on the trainer ASAP. You will be back on the road in 4-6 weeks
05-26-09, 09:21 AM
I've broken each collarbone twice. The first one I broke I followed the doc's advice carefully, wore a sling and didn't do any exercise for weeks at the end of which I felt far worse (psychologically) from losing fitness than I did from pain discomfort. With the others I got the same basic medical advice but decided to go back on the trainer within days. I didn't lose much fitness and it had no appreciable affect on how long it took to heal fully --as others have said, about 6 weeks. Funnily enough the only time I hurt (mildly) anymore is when the weather changes--built in baromter FTW!
My advice would be to see a doc as soon as possible after the break to seek if it's bad enough to require surgery (it usually won't be and if it is, get a second opinion because it's is suprisingly not as straightforward a procedure as you might think given the nerves involved and the issues that can result from placing pins or screws in the bone). Get back on the trainer (even if sitting up straight with no hands on the bars) quickly and you'll be able to graduate to riding the bike in a couple of weeks. I found my mountain bike was more comfortable to begin with because of the bar position and the suspension lessening bumps etc.
My advice would be to see a doc as soon as possible after the break to seek if it's bad enough to require surgery (it usually won't be and if it is, get a second opinion because it's is suprisingly not as straightforward a procedure as you might think given the nerves involved and the issues that can result from placing pins or screws in the bone).
Yes, the doc said that the nerves in front of the shoulder actually come up and over from the back and they have to cut those to get in there. I had no feeling around my shoulder & pec for a while but the body adapts and the nerves from elsewhere grow into it. I now have most of the feeling back in that area but there are a few dead spots 8 months later.
05-26-09, 09:31 AM
There's an interesting article in the June issue of ROAD discussing the relative merits of surgical repair of broken collarbones.
05-26-09, 09:44 AM
Avoid the knife if possible. Going under really jacks you up for at least a week.
Avoid the knife if possible. Going under really jacks you up for at least a week.
How do you figure?
05-29-09, 09:29 AM
I just had my follow up X-ray, and come to find out the collar bone is "in pieces". There weren't very reassuring, and told me I need to see an orthopedic doc asap. I'm pretty bummed, but appreciate all the responses.
05-29-09, 09:36 AM
Mine was in pieces too .. .and not very close together either, even after a week. My ortho said not to sweat it and there was over an 80% chance they would still come together ... they did and I avoided the knife.
05-29-09, 09:43 AM
^ The study referenced in ROAD indicates that the rate of non union is over 1/3rd without surgery. Admittedly its one study.
But there appears to be reason to at least question the conventional wisdom of avoiding surgery, particularly with gaps over 2cm.
Mine was a clean break but was so displaced they highly recommended I see an orthopedic surgeon and have surgery. The surgeon looked at it and said there was a chance it could grow back on it's own but gave me the option. I chose surgery, and afterwords, he told me that there was a bunch of soft tissue that was in way the way of the two bone-ends and it is very unlikely that it would have grown back on its own. If the docs are worried, I would take it very seriously. Just because a lot of people here are saying theirs grew back no problem does not mean yours will. The surgery is fairly minor these days, it's not a big deal as long as you have insurance to pay for it...
05-29-09, 10:00 AM
Do you have to go under for these surgeries, or is there a possiblity of a local?
05-29-09, 10:10 AM
No way ... lights completely out.
I agree with UMD, current research seams to lean toward more surgeries than fewer ... but I am very cautious about any profession pushing options that make them more money, kind of like the increase in C-sections.
05-29-09, 10:16 AM
Check out my thread on my experience and especially the x-ray on page 2.
You have to go under although it is outpatient. It is pretty invasive and as UMD & others stated, it's not straight forward. It was the right move for me to get mine fixed. I'm almost 18 months out and have no lasting issues other than a scar and a little dead zone below the scar.
06-02-09, 12:42 PM
Day 10 after the crash, and I saw the orthopedic today. He immediately sent me to the surgeon. They said the break needs surgery and I'm set for Thursday. The bone was displaced, and broken into 3 pieces. He told me my recovery time would be 3 months, but I'm hoping he was just being very cautious. They are going into the front of my shoulder, peeling back my pectoral muscle and inserting the plate. I cringed at the idea of that, but this surgeon is supposed to be pretty good. I hope it works out.
06-02-09, 12:51 PM
Sorry to hear man, was it a lot worse x-ray than my pic? Did you get a second opinion?
06-02-09, 03:02 PM
3 months sounds like way too long after surgery. My doctor is as over cautious as they come and i didnt get permission to ride again for 8 weeks after surgery.
My doc also told me i couldnt use the trainer or anything the entire time. Not saying thats normal, but just shows how different docs are.
Mine said that it was stronger than it was before and I could ride if I wanted "as pain allowed"
Just don't crash again
I can't imagine why you would have to wait 3 months
I was riding 4 weeks after the break and 2 1/2 weeks after surgery (and using the recumbent, etc in the interim). Maybe not super smart -- I could ride easily enough, but didn't have the strength to lift my arm outward to signal a left turn, more than a few inches. Never mind reaching into a jersey pocket.
06-02-09, 04:07 PM
I'm just ready to get it fixed. It is grotesque looking. The part that freaked me out was the moving of my pectoral muscle so they could go through the front. I had never heard anyone else mention that before. All in all, I've had 5 x-rays now and no one said anything encouraging. The surgeon was the most encouraging. He explained I would heal without surgery, but could have a lot of problems later on.
I argued with him about the 3 months and he backed off a little and said I may be able to be riding by sometime in July. I can't imagine I won't be able to at least spin on the trainer. Also, I'm now focused on cyclocross, and purchased a set of tubular wheels in honor of my pending slice and dice session.
Is he giving you an estimate of when he thinks you will be able to ride, or actually telling you not to ride? In my experience, if you are fit you heal much better than the "average person", and have higher levels of pain/discomfort tolerance.
I suspect if they are messing around with your pectoral muscle, you may be in more pain for longer than the typical collarbone surgery, and you may be left weaker as well. I wouldn't take internet advice over your doctors though. My recommendation would be to find out the reasoning behind the time period he has given you.
06-05-09, 09:04 AM
I had surgery yesterday. Here is a pic of my new collorbone. Once again, I appreciate all the responses.
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