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Broken collar bone, what now?

Old 03-18-21, 08:18 AM
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Broken collar bone, what now?

Hello all.
I took a little tumble yesterday on a wild trek and immediately knew my left collar bone was broken.
This is actually my first ever bone break, well into my forties, so it was about time and I was half expecting it somehow! It is a simple closed fracture, I fell on my shoulder and helmeted head. Happily no other damage apart from hurt pride and gravel rash.
I now find myself in the happy situation of not being able to do very much at all, vexing indeed as I rely on being active for daily duties.
What concerns me most (after the additional family workload this entails) is my recuperation without losing too much strength in the left arm muscles.

Can anyone offer any experience of how this will progress, advice or tips?
I have a check up in three weeks.

Kind regards, and always use a helmet!!
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Old 03-18-21, 08:42 AM
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Did you talk to your healthcare provider about this? Seems like a good place to start. Never broke a clavicle, but have had a few a-c separations, one of which was severe enough for surgery, which I stupidly chose to forego. 24 years later, that a-c joint aches if I lay on my side for too long, lean on my forearms in a certain way, raise/lower my arm with heavy objects, etc. So, do what your provider told you, and don’t rush it. Repair, r3cover, rehab, return to service. In that order.
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Old 03-18-21, 08:43 AM
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Well...I havenít broken a collar bone. But, I did need to have surgery for a torn rotator cuff several years ago in my early 50s. (And have had numerous other sidelining injuries/surgeries.) As an avid swimmer obviously that meant Iíd be out of the pool for a while. When the doctor and PTs finally allowed me to resume swimming I went at it slowly and gradually...like I was a new swimmer. Eventually I was swimming as fast, or faster, than I had pre-injury. Itís a different injury, but I tell you this just to point out that itís not the end of the world. Let yourself heal. Recuperate and listen to the doctor and PTs. Youíll be good as new in no time. Good luck.

Dan
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Old 03-18-21, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by AdkMtnMonster View Post
Did you talk to your healthcare provider about this? Seems like a good place to start. Never broke a clavicle, but have had a few a-c separations, one of which was severe enough for surgery, which I stupidly chose to forego. 24 years later, that a-c joint aches if I lay on my side for too long, lean on my forearms in a certain way, raise/lower my arm with heavy objects, etc. So, do what your provider told you, and donít rush it. Repair, r3cover, rehab, return to service. In that order.
Copy that. "Just keep my chest out, back straight " was the advice. "Come back in three weeks"
It seems peculiar that it does not hurt at all when relaxing, but a sneeze or forgetful movement sends a lightning bolt through the zone!
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Old 03-18-21, 09:43 AM
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Doctor or physical therapist might recommend electrical muscle stimulator to keep muscles from atrophy. Best to start ASAP if it fits your situation.
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Old 03-18-21, 09:46 AM
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I had a daughter break a collarbone in a soccer fall. It was a decade ago. She missed an entire season. Her bone likely mended faster than yours will. Ask your doctor and follow his/her advice.
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Old 03-18-21, 09:51 AM
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Yes, muscle atrophy is something you might want to be aware of. And by that, I mean avoid if possible.
I was a young, fit kid when I lost the use of my right arm for a few months. After a couple surgeries and months of inactivity, my arm had withered to a skeletal looking appendage that ended in a claw...
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Old 03-18-21, 09:59 AM
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Thanks for your replies.

Obviously the doctors have seen this a million times and each patient is different. I understand fully that this needs time and patience to heal correctly.
Theoretically when I am fixed it will be spring/summer and I too will be back in the swimming pool and sea for some gentle rehab, that is my hope at least.
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Old 03-18-21, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Yes, muscle atrophy is something you might want to be aware of. And by that, I mean avoid if possible.
I was a young, fit kid when I lost the use of my right arm for a few months. After a couple surgeries and months of inactivity, my arm had withered to a skeletal looking appendage that ended in a claw...
gasp! That was my fear! At least I can actually flex my arm muscles without pain.
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Old 03-18-21, 10:03 AM
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broke it about 15 years ago. showers were...interesting and pullover shirts gave way to buttondowns. immobilizing the area as much as possible and sleeping on my back had things much better in two weeks and had things back to normal in a month. no surgery required nor did i use a sling except for the first day. did involve two checkups. no noticeable atrophy but it was on my left side and iím left-handed.
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Old 03-18-21, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Deepcherry View Post
gasp! That was my fear! At least I can actually flex my arm muscles without pain.
Thatís promising.
In my case, the entire arm had to be immobilized and I had no use of it whatsoever as I had to wait for the muscles, nerves, tendons, arteries, veins and bones to knit back together.
Your limited use of the injured arm might help stave off atrophy until the collarbone heals.
Keep us up to date. Also in my forties and wondering how quick guys our age will bounce back from such injuries.

Get well soon!
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Old 03-18-21, 10:59 AM
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Find another doc and get it bolted back together. You'll be back on the bike 2 days later.

Or if your break doesn't justify surgery, just get on the trainer without using the arm with the broken clavicle.

Also, you can use your arm with a broken collar bone, just don't do too much with it. A bottle of water makes for a good, light weight to do arm exercises if needed.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:03 AM
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One consideration is where along the clavicle is it broken. There are different techniques for repair from a figure-eight brace around your arms and across your back to open reduction and fixation.
For good advice, go to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulders. In your place, I would call all of the bicycle racing teams and clubs in Spain for a referral.
I broke mine and did not do that. The surgeon put on a figure-eight brace, and it did not heal. After six weeks I took it off and had adequate range of motion, so I did a push up, and that went well, no pain. Today, thirty plus years on, it is still broken, you can see the stump and feel the protuberance.
Good luck.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
broke it about 15 years ago. showers were...interesting and pullover shirts gave way to buttondowns. immobilizing the area as much as possible and sleeping on my back had things much better in two weeks and had things back to normal in a month. no surgery required nor did i use a sling except for the first day. did involve two checkups. no noticeable atrophy but it was on my left side and iím left-handed.

Showers are difficult! amongst other things.
Well I can only hope that I am cured within the month, though I am prepared for a longer recovery.
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Old 03-18-21, 11:11 AM
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My nephew fell and broke his a couple of years ago. They said it would probably heal itself. He dicked around with it for several months. Finally they decided on surgery and he healed quickly. I hate the idea of surgery, especially now, but something to be said for "get r done."
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Old 03-18-21, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Pratt View Post
One consideration is where along the clavicle is it broken. There are different techniques for repair from a figure-eight brace around your arms and across your back to open reduction and fixation.
For good advice, go to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulders. In your place, I would call all of the bicycle racing teams and clubs in Spain for a referral.
I broke mine and did not do that. The surgeon put on a figure-eight brace, and it did not heal. After six weeks I took it off and had adequate range of motion, so I did a push up, and that went well, no pain. Today, thirty plus years on, it is still broken, you can see the stump and feel the protuberance.
Good luck.
Still broken? wow

interesting advice to get a referral from a club, I have time for that now! Thank you.

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Old 03-18-21, 11:19 AM
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I shall be avoiding any surgery at the moment, as I am not feeling discomfort and the bone appears to be set, I can hardly notice any visual difference between left and right, save the small bulge.
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Old 03-18-21, 03:09 PM
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I shattered mine after a crash one year. It was broken in multiple spots, required multiple surgeries to fix all the damage. Even though I had a lot of bone breakage, the soft tissue bruising was far worse than the actual broken bones. I had to sleep in a recliner for 2 weeks and eventually bought a bed that moved so I could find a comfortable position. I will have a lifetime of odd nerve shocking in my left should as the bone fragmentation were so extensive, they mingled with and brought along for the recovery ride the nerves. So I can never have a shoulder rub on my left shoulder without the joy of shocking pain running down my left arm.

My doctor gave me a 80% mobility and strength estimate due to the amount of damage.

Now the good stuff. Physical Therapy, learn to love the pain it brings, because each painful moment is bringing you back toward 100%. I was lucky enough to find a fantastic PT and while it hurt like hell it was worth every moment. Due to Devon and a couple of his cohorts, I have regained 95-98% of my range of movement and 95% of the strength. In fact, I have better range of movement in my left than my right. He happened to be an instructor at one of local universities and on occasion, his student joined in giving the oh so joyous pain.

If you just have a minor break, there is not much you can do but let it heal, but lack of movement might make you stiff and you may still need some PT, so don't skip it.
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Old 03-18-21, 03:29 PM
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I broke my left clavicle about 4 years ago (in my mid 30's) and I was given the option of surgery or letting it heal. I choose the healing option and was told to move my arm around in 3 positions often (behind my head was the one I remember). After about 2 weeks, I setup one of my vintage mountain bikes with upright north road bars, but the little bumps in the road would cause discomfort. I started riding that bike after about a month and only road that bike for about 1-2 months before riding the others.
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Old 03-18-21, 03:45 PM
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I fractured/split the end of mine first week of June, 2012. I was off the bike for 4-6 weeks. In mid-August I did the metric route of D2R2. Mostly dirt event with oodles of climbing. Not the smartest decision (I fell on cobblestones once.), but I survived. The beginning of the second week of September I started Cycle Oregon.
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Old 03-18-21, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Yes, muscle atrophy is something you might want to be aware of. And by that, I mean avoid if possible.
I was a young, fit kid when I lost the use of my right arm for a few months. After a couple surgeries and months of inactivity, my arm had withered to a skeletal looking appendage that ended in a claw...
Wow. Thatís brutal. What did you arm that had surgery look like?
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Old 03-18-21, 04:03 PM
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As long as the doctor(s) signed off on it, you should be good to go.
Sucks that you broke it but it sounds like you’re already on the mend. And s’good that it was an uncomplicated injury. Like jaxgtr, I also suffered a lot of nerve damage and experience a fair amount of pain.
Not pleasant.
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Old 03-18-21, 04:15 PM
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I forgot to say, even though I was off the bike for longer than I liked, I had a couple of years of medical issues that all hit at once, I have not had any issues long term as far as my shoulder goes and I do not feel anything while riding based on my shoulder injury, which is good. This happened when I was 50 by the way
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Old 03-18-21, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by AdkMtnMonster View Post
Wow. Thatís brutal. What did you arm that had surgery look like?
The arm, especially right above the wrist, looks like it belongs to the Frankenstein monster.
Many small scars pepper the arm but the wrist looks like it was sewn on because it was. Thereís a line almost totally around the circumference of my wrist except for a small portion that hadnít been cut through. My hand was hanging off the arm by that scrap of flesh. Anyway, that scar almost entirely encircling my wrist has tiny little scars from the stitches and sutures and goes from broad and ragged to thin and precise looking.

Creepiest thing is, my hand below the scar looks bigger than the arm itís attached to. Like someone put a different personís hand on the arm.

But itís healed pretty good, all things considered. Except for some loss of function in the ring finger and a lack of any real grip strength, I recovered almost full use of the hand. Was a couple days there, after the initial surgery, the docs were talking about amputation...

Not super enthused about what itís gonna be like as I get older, though.
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Old 03-18-21, 08:32 PM
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Generally I'd defer to the expert medical professionals.

But in my case, having been there in 2018, it was more like: see four ortho docs, get four different opinions. The younger ortho doc who obviously spent a lot of time in the gym was basically dismissive of a 60-something y/o dude and had nothing useful to offer. He was too young to realize it can take much longer for older patients to heal. Hey, I remember what that was like. I figured it would take a few weeks to heal, not nearly two years. The older docs recommended immobility, arm in a sling for weeks. That didn't seem right either. I went with the suggestions from the middle doc.

Same with physical therapy and chiropractors. There are a few good 'uns but many are incompetent nitwits peddling woo.

I found one good PT and a couple of good YouTube channels for continuing PT on my own at home.
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