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Personal injuries: How to heal a broken collarbone or clavicle?

Imagine you were riding your bicycle in the countryside near Honolulu. It was a beautiful day and you were enjoying the fresh air immensely, until a speeding automobile clipped your handlebars and caused you to crash. Miraculously, you survived with only a broken collarbone. Nevertheless, the injury is extremely painful and it's going to take time to heal.

Broken collarbones, i.e., broken clavicles, are common injuries among athletes and accident victims. The clavicle is one of two thin bones on your right or left side that connect your shoulder blades with your neck. Particularly in thin people, these relatively delicate bones are easy to see. The bone is prone to breaking when an accident victim falls on his or her shoulder, hand or arm or, when something strikes the shoulder or shoulder blade directly.

Those who suffer broken collar bones often hear a crack when it happens, and then they experience swelling, pain, trouble moving the shoulder and arm, a sagging shoulder, and a bump where the break happened.

The usual recommendation from doctors regarding broken clavicles is to give them the necessary time to heal on their own. Here are the general treatment recommendations for this condition:

  • Allow the clavicle to heal by itself.
  • Put a brace or splint on the shoulder to prevent movement.
  • Use a sling on the arm for several days.
  • Try an anti-inflammatory painkiller like ibuprofen or aspirin.
  • Attend physical therapy sessions to build strength, reduce pain and increase range of motion.
  • In severe clavicle breaks, surgical intervention could be required to repair damaged ligaments.
  • Rest for six to 12 weeks.

Most collarbone breaks heal within six to twelve weeks, but it's important for athletes and physical laborers not to resume with vigorous activity until after the collarbone has had sufficient time to heal, and not until after a doctor has examined x-rays to ensure that the bone has grown solidly back together.

Since a broken collarbone caused by a motor vehicle accident or other type of accident may require visits to doctors, X-rays, expensive physical therapy and other treatments, this kind of injury could represent a financial burden for the victim. In cases where the injured person was hurt as a result of someone else's negligence, it may be possible to hold the at-fault party liable for the medical costs and other damages in court.

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