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Broken collarbone experience?

Old 06-11-19, 02:37 PM
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mppsu2003
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Broken collarbone experience?

Hi all,

I broke my left collarbone in a crash two days ago...have to wait another 3 days to see an ortho. The ER said I had closed displaced fracture, but they seemed to think I wouldn't need surgery, that there were no deformities or anything. I was discharged with a sling and some basic instructions.

I'm curious what the recovery was like? Right now it hurts but that's obvious. Here are some questions I have if anyone can help since i'm stressed out while I wait to talk to a doc:

1) It says 6-8 weeks to heal ...does that mean fully healed, like I can go about my normal physical activity? Or is that just for the bone itself to "fuse" back together?

2) Is surgery common for displaced fractures? The ER didn't seem to think it was severe enough, but you read a lot of different things.

3) About how many days should I expect before I can move the arm a little at all...IE when it gets easier to put a shirt on, which right now is difficult.

4) Can I worsen the fracture by moving my arm? I haven't taken it out of the sling other than to shower so I'm doing the best I can, but the arm still moves here and there (typing, just natural turns)...the pain isn't any different during these motions.

Anyway thanks in advance for any help or experience you can provide.
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Old 06-11-19, 05:47 PM
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Beachgrad05
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I broke my left collarbone in a motorcycle accident years ago. It was broken clean in two. Not sure of terminology. I had to wear a brace to pull my shoulder back to align the two pieces. It grew back together and I can feel the point where they come together as it healed at an angle.

I couldn't move my arm forward like to tie shoelaces...but I don't recall much in way of restrictions because pain mitigated me moving it certain ways.

As a woman, I had some difficulty putting bra on. LOL

Sorry I'm not more helpful. I did ride my motorcycle about 5 weeks post accident when it was done being repaired.
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Old 06-11-19, 06:06 PM
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I had the same sort of injury in 2016. I kept the arm as immobile as possible and moved with extreme care when I had to ---and was careful not to move anything between the neck and the elbow. After about six weeks, I decided it was healed---and promptly snapped it again trying to lift a bucket of rocks. Another six weeks and I did it again. All in all in took three months for the bone to knit and stay together .... and now I have a lump and lingering pain.

Don't be like me.
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Old 06-11-19, 07:08 PM
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I broke my collarbone in 2 places in a motorcycle accident along with breaking the scapula and 2 ribs. In my case, I needed surgery because with the two breaks and the broken scapula, there was nothing to keep things in place so it would have healed in a really bad way. My doctor told me that in most cases, a simple collarbone break does not require surgery.

I was told not to move my arm at all while waiting for surgery and then after the surgery for about 4 weeks. By that time, muscles had completely atrophied and things had gotten really tight. It was a couple of weeks of PT before I could even raise my arm over my head.

Your doctor should have answered all your questions and I would insist they do if it was me. The same rules don't always apply so you want the person who knows your injury to tell you what is OK to do and when to start being active again. I would tell them that you cycle and want to start riding again as soon as possible. That might have a bearing on how they instruct you.

Funny story. Not too long after my accident, I was reading about a moto GP rider who had almost the exact same injuries as me and he competed in a GP race less than 3 weeks later. I cannot even imagine what they gave him to allow him to do that or how much pain he must have been in. Anything to avoid a DNF I suppose.
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Old 06-11-19, 07:39 PM
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My injury was similar to the OP’s; only right side. I stayed in the sling for about 6 weeks, I had 2 follow ups with the ortho on maybe 4 week intervals. At the last one, he expressed some surprise that I came in with the sling; at that point there was little pain and fairly good range. I recall that he said it would continue to heal over the next few months and to avoid lifting heavy weights during that time. I stayed off the bike for a total of 4-5 months I think. Took awhile to replace the bike’s frame too.

First few weeks, I took great care not to strain it. Button front shirts, no tees or polos which would require movement of the arm.

good luck on your recovery.
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Old 06-11-19, 11:10 PM
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It's different for everyone. A friend who's 20 years younger was back on the bike a couple of weeks after surgery that needed hardware to repair a bad break. That was her second shoulder/collarbone injury in a couple of years and she recovered remarkably quickly.

I'm still in physical therapy a year later after a car hit me, breaking and dislocating my shoulder. It took several months last year before I could even lift my right hand enough to comb my hair or brush my teeth right handed. I had to do everything left handed for around 6 months. I mostly used an indoor trainer last summer to stay in shape, and gradually got back on the road with a hybrid for a month or so before trying the road bike. I still have chronic pain, especially around the shoulder blade, but it's gradually improved the past month with lots of PT.

But I'm 61 with the early stages of osteoporosis and don't bounce like I used to. Most younger folks I know who've had shoulder and collarbone injuries from bicycling rebounded much more quickly.
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Old 06-12-19, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
It's different for everyone.
That's why I will never understand these types of threads. Every injury is unique, and people heel/recover at different rates.

Personally, I split the end of my collar bone on a June 6th. No riding for a month. In the middle of August I did the metric course of D2R2. (Probably not the smartest decision.) In September I did Cycle Oregon. But it still took me a long time to get my full range of motion back.
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Old 06-12-19, 06:13 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
That's why I will never understand these types of threads.
In every thread like this, someone say that.

In a lot of threads like this, people explain why there are threads like this.
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Old 06-12-19, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post

In a lot of threads like this, people explain why there are threads like this.
But what bike was John Ritter riding in "Three's Company"?
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Old 06-12-19, 07:20 AM
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Last year I broke my collarbone (and dislocated my shoulder) in a similar manner after crashing in a group ride. After going to the ER, and accidentally re-locating my shoulder myself, which is probably easier if your collarbone is also broken..., they erroneously told me to give it a week or two and I should be good to go. The ER, with their X-Ray had missed the actual fracture, and after it didn't feel much better a week later and I could physically move the bones around in my shoulder, I went to my general practitioner and was then sent to an Ortho, who saw pretty quickly that it was actually broken. The Ortho took more X-Rays and informed me it probably didn't need surgery, and I should check back in a week or so (after getting hit with that co-pay... I didn't).

After this, it was super hard putting shirts on, putting my seat-belt on (still did), sleeping (if I rolled onto that side OW), etc. Looking back at Strava, the fracture happened 06/16/2018, I started cycling with my arm in the sling on my indoor trainer on 06/28/2018 and did my first ride back outside on 07/08/2018, but I remember it was pretty shaky. My first long ride (95ish miles) after the fracture was 07/14/2018, at this point I was doing much better, but it still hurt sleeping on that side, and the collarbone looked noticeable different from the other one (this visual difference disappeared within 6 months).

All in all, I was back outside on my bike in 22 days or 3 weeks and 1 day after the initial crash.

NOTE: my research indicates that surgery would actually get you back on your bike much faster, I'd only consider that if it was recommended by the Ortho.
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Old 06-12-19, 07:29 AM
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Fractured mine 60 years ago high siding a down hill corner on my bicycle and coming off the paved edge..
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Old 06-12-19, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
That's why I will never understand these types of threads. Every injury is unique, and people heel/recover at different rates.
Injuries such as breaks like this, although not terribly traumatic, are still troubling. People start these threads to get some idea of best and worst case scenarios and some reassurance that things will be ok.

My wife slipped 6 weeks ago and found herself with a non displaced fracture of the lower fibula. Two weeks from now we were scheduled to fly into Calgary to ride our mountain tandem bike down a modified Tour Divide route from Banff to Kalispell Mt. She cried and was devastated that the injury was going to ruin our Summer outing. One of the first things that we did was to go and see what other people's experiences and healing rates were to come up with a best/worst case understanding of what we were facing. At 6 weeks, she is healing nicely but still can't do more than soft pedal on the trainer. We're shooting for a very late August departure out of Banff now.

To the OP.
My son went down hard a few years back and broke his collarbone. His helmet saved him from a concussion. Things weren't aligning too well so they did surgery where they put in a small plate with some screws. I believe that healing with the plate was quicker since it held the bone ends together. Surgery recovery was very quick as it was skin healing.
Another friend broke his and it was aligned so he didn't have surgery. It was a very slow recovery for him.

My caveat. I am not a doctor. Any time that a break is displaced, it is tricky depending on the alignment. If I ever get a collarbone break, I will likely request surgery as I am of the belief that the plate keeps things aligned better and you don't have bone on bone rub until the ends fuse together.
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Old 06-12-19, 10:06 AM
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Any truth to the rumor that John Ritter broke his collarbone in that on-screen crash? Someone should inquire about his recovery process.
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Old 06-12-19, 11:09 AM
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Right side, 10 years ago

Through the fog of time, this is my memory of my crash and recovery: My front wheel got caught in a parallel crack. I went over the handlebars, cracked my helmet and broke my collarbone. There was minor displacement but my orthopedic guy felt it wasn't enough for corrective surgery. Nothing to do but stay relatively immobile for a few of weeks and let nature take its course.

I was black and blue from shoulder to hip for weeks and watched the bruising turn that sickly yellow. I began moderate exercise after about two weeks, graduating to pull ups at about three to four. At six weeks my surgeon was getting concerned because he thought mending was taking longer than he anticipated. When I told him I had started doing pull ups he said..."Don't do that." Once I stopped, healing progressed as expected.

After 10 years I will say my should still gets little twinges. I have not yet gotten back to doing 20 pull ups. There is still a bump where the bone mended and I was concerned it would make it difficult to carry a backpack. That hasn't been a problem, but my shoulder blade at times still bothers me. My surgeon said that since my collar bone is a bit shorter now, the shoulder blade doesn't quite follow the same track it had been following prior to my accident, and there is a dull ache from time to time, which requires a little extra stretching. Other than this minor irk, my should feels fine, just one of the infirmities added to a lived life.

As for bike riding, after about 2 months I bought an Mtb, (wider tires, gentler riding position) which allowed me to ride around until I felt confident to get back on my road bike. Incidentally, I retired the bike I crashed on and got my first carbon fiber from, a Trek 5200.
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Old 06-12-19, 02:26 PM
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Here's mine. I'd say surgery helped a lot, I was off the bike for 4 weeks. Started riding without pushing too much after that with no ill effect.
Looking at it now, looks like he could have used shorter screws LOL
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Old 06-12-19, 02:41 PM
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I've broken each twice. Never had surgery. All healed up OK. Each time my shoulder narrowed some so my overall shoulder width is most of an inch less. In each case (except perhaps the first) in about 3 weeks I could start doing more with my arm. Trainer in two weeks, road in four.

Ben
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Old 06-12-19, 05:58 PM
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Old 06-12-19, 06:09 PM
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Broke mine 4 years ago in a cycling accident on the C&O canal. Had to ride 35 miles with a severely displaced fracture to get back to civilization so I could have my wife pick me up. Went to an old school ortho who said surgery wasn’t necessary. 6 weeks later went for a second opinion and the doctor said I should have had surgery but it was too late at that point. It was probably 10 weeks before I was riding on the road again but got on my trainer within two weeks. It’s a awkward bone to break and you can’t get much relief until it heals. Surgery would likely speed up the healing process. Get several opinions.
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Old 06-14-19, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by joeruge View Post
Through the fog of time, this is my memory of my crash and recovery: My front wheel got caught in a parallel crack. I went over the handlebars, cracked my helmet and broke my collarbone. There was minor displacement but my orthopedic guy felt it wasn't enough for corrective surgery. Nothing to do but stay relatively immobile for a few of weeks and let nature take its course.

I was black and blue from shoulder to hip for weeks and watched the bruising turn that sickly yellow. I began moderate exercise after about two weeks, graduating to pull ups at about three to four. At six weeks my surgeon was getting concerned because he thought mending was taking longer than he anticipated. When I told him I had started doing pull ups he said..."Don't do that." Once I stopped, healing progressed as expected.

After 10 years I will say my should still gets little twinges. I have not yet gotten back to doing 20 pull ups. There is still a bump where the bone mended and I was concerned it would make it difficult to carry a backpack. That hasn't been a problem, but my shoulder blade at times still bothers me. My surgeon said that since my collar bone is a bit shorter now, the shoulder blade doesn't quite follow the same track it had been following prior to my accident, and there is a dull ache from time to time, which requires a little extra stretching. Other than this minor irk, my should feels fine, just one of the infirmities added to a lived life.

As for bike riding, after about 2 months I bought an Mtb, (wider tires, gentler riding position) which allowed me to ride around until I felt confident to get back on my road bike. Incidentally, I retired the bike I crashed on and got my first carbon fiber from, a Trek 5200.
I broke my collar bone at age 47, clean break w/1.8 cm displacement, IIRC, was seen by Orthopod who consulted for Yankees Pitchers...
Said leave in sling 90% of time, don't do anything with the arm. I asked if I could start rehabbing in a couple weeks, like I remembered. More like 6 weeks, he said. Age was the primary factor. Period. No surgery for me, no pins, just time. Surgery always has risks he said. (Doh!) But what he meant was if you don't absolutely need it, DON'T. I asked about the overlap, shouldn't they be put back in place? Nope, not worth it, he said. A young child, yes probably, a nationally ranked junior athlete, maybe if gymnast etc. Otherwise, NO. After 6 weeks light stuff, nothing that hurt. If it hurt I was doing too much. Three months later he said take it easy but do what you want. 6 months later it was completely over, except now there's a visible lump, and I know when the barometer's falling.

If it's a compound fracture, or there are fragments, obviously that changes things. Good luck, be patient.
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Old 06-14-19, 09:28 PM
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Re:

thanks for sharing your stories. I did go to the ortho today, 3cm displaced. So not a great break. He said there are two options, surgery or natural healing. He said in both cases the recovery time is similar, surgery slightly quicker. He said natural healing will leave me with a lump, which I expected. Otherwise in both cases i should eventually get full functionality back. Surgery has obvious risks, while naturally healing has a small risk of not healing correctly. So basically it was a toss up situation. Iíll have to decide what to do but Iím leaning toward no surgery. Iíll have to decide.

Interestingly he said with natural healing that the sling doesnít help beyond my own comfort.. in other words itís not holding anything in place so thereís no reason to wear it unless it prevents my own pain. For now Iíll keep it on, at least until the follow up
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