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April 23, 2017  
REFERENCE: Frequently Asked Questions
Broken Bones
Q: My 16 yr old son broke his collarbone 12 days ago. Everything seems to be healing very well, but now there is a significant bump on the collarbone. Is this normal?
Answered by David Bailie M.D. on November 08, 2001
A: The bump is normal and will slowly shrink although it may not disappear. The bump is new bone and means the collarbone is healing. This should be confirmed with an x-ray by your doctor.
 
Q: I broke my clavicle while playing hockey. The doctor told me that it would be 4-6 weeks before I would be able to play again. It has now been eleven weeks and the x-rays still show a fracture, but I feel fine. Why is it taking so long to heal?
Answered by David Bailie M.D. on November 08, 2001
A: The collarbone takes about 6 weeks to heal. The x-ray may not show this complete healing for up to 12-16 weeks. Returning to sports is usually ok, if you feel fine, by 6 weeks.
 
Q: I broke my collarbone almost 6 weeks ago. I just came from the doctor who said it shows no signs of calcification and recommended a device to stimulate the growth of the bone. I am to no longer keep it in the sling. I have a full range of motion in the arm, just cannot pick up heavy weights. Is this normal or should I consult another doctor?
Answered by David Bailie M.D. on November 08, 2001
A: The collarbone does not always heal. This is called a nonunion. It really is not an issue until 3 months after the fracture occurs. That is when a bone stimulator may be prescribed. Using it at 6 weeks is fine too, and I think a second opinion is never a bad idea.

The risks of operating on a nonunion of the collarbone are: bleeding, infection, continued failure of healing, nerve injury, and continued pain. There are major nerves and blood vessels nearby but can be protected during surgery. You should ask your surgeon about these specific risks and his/her experience with the surgery and the occurrence of these problems.

Physical therapy is important for your shoulder but will not help the bone heal. A well balanced diet is the best way to optimize your nutrition. Supplements can help keep you healthy but will not specifically help bone healing.

 
Q: My clavicle bone was broken and never fused, I have decided to have the surgery and was given the option of using a shaving from my hip or a cadaver bone. I wanted to know overall, which would be better to use?
Answered by David Bailie M.D. on November 08, 2001
A: The chances are better that healing will occur if you use your bone. However, this part of the surgery (taking the bone) is often more painful than the collarbone surgery. Cadaver bone works well but with some small percentage chance of failure to heal. Discuss these issues with your surgeon.
 
Q: Five weeks ago I broke my clavicle and noticed that the shoulder on the broken side was about an inch shorter than my non-injured shoulder. X-rays shows the broken ends of the bone are over lapping quite a bit. Can these bones be set or somehow realigned?
Answered by David Bailie M.D. on November 08, 2001
A: At this point, only major surgery can correct this shortening. Most people tolerate 1-2 cm of shortening. If you are not having pain or other problems, leave it alone. If it bothers you, then discuss this with your doctor.
 
Q: I fell on my shoulder and subsequent CT scan revealed "fracture of the medial humeral head, with an avulsed osseous fragment." What are the pros and cons of surgery to correct this?
Answered by David Bailie M.D. on November 08, 2001
A: This is a very complicated problem. Most people do well if the bones are well aligned. The decision for surgery depends on many factors, some of which are: age, bone quality, activity level, dominant or non-dominant side, fragment alignment. Discuss these specific with your surgeon.
 
Q: I was involved in a motor vehicle accident and my scapula was fractured. The doctor informed me that the Acromion part of the scapula has broken off and that is why I was experiencing AC separation symptoms. I was also told that more than likely nothing can be done to stabilize my shoulder. Is this true?
Answered by David Bailie M.D. on November 08, 2001
A: If the acromion was fractured, it should be fixed surgically if there is a gap at the fracture site. This is a very important part of the scapular and is where the deltoid attaches. If there is not a gap, it may heal without surgery.
 
Q: I had a skiing accident and have a proximal humerus fracture. One doctor read my x-rays and said let it heal in the sling. Another read the x-rays, ordered a Cat Scan and says you need surgery. Why the difference in treatments?
Answered by David Bailie M.D. on November 08, 2001
A: The CT scan will help better identify the fracture and determine if surgery is needed. The decision for surgery depends on many factors, some of which are: age, bone quality, activity level, dominant or non-dominant side, fragment alignment. Discuss these specific with your surgeon.
 
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