Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ten (OK, twelve) things about breaking your collarbone

Posted by Matt | December 19, 2008 | 168 comments so far

Matt's broken collarbone X-ray
Up until this year I’ve been lucky enough never to have broken a single bone in my body. I probably haven’t been trying hard enough which suits me fine, if you’re injured you can’t ride for a start. But this year, as most of you know I collided heavily with a tree and the tree won quite easily, leaving me with a broken collarbone.

What can you expect if you’re unlucky enough to experience the same? Here’s a list of the main points.

  1. Breaking a bone hurts, a lot. In my limited experience, not as bad as suffering for an entire weekend with a raging tooth abcess but close. The thing is, although it’s the sort of pain that makes you want to be very good and sit still if it would just stop hurting, when you do sit still it does stop hurting. Until you move of course. But for me, tooth pain is worse because it won’t stop, ever.
  2. Like tooth pain, when it stops hurting it’s difficult to remember how bad it was, which is probably a good thing. Until you move.
  3. The first week or so is the worst if you are following the traditional ‘strap it up and wait for nature to mend it’ course. The bone starts making new stuff pretty quickly but after a couple of days the sensation of the two ends sticking and then pulling apart as you move still makes me feel nauseous if I think about it.
  4. There is a wide range of estimates of how long it takes to heal. I’ve heard of people being back at work the next day (frankly that’s in the borderline insane category) to up to eight or ten weeks. For me, I had five and a half weeks in a sling followed by another couple of weeks to get mobility back enough to drive a car. And it was a simple (but clean) break. My advice is listen to your body first, then doctors. There are no shortcuts.
  5. Painkillers are a boon and a curse. Put it this way, codeine based painkillers are known for effective pain relief, followed by ummm, constipation. Calculate your dosage based on need.
  6. Most medical advice is offered on a ‘don’t do anything unless necessary (or we’re getting paid for it)’ basis. This gives rise to consultants suggesting pinning the bone whereas NHS doctors say ‘it’ll be fine, just wait’. If you think pinning is worthwhile, insist early on or it’s not worth it as the bone is healing straight away. For me, pinning would have saved time but not necessarily been the best option as it was a simple break and was always going to heal on its own. Pinning involves cutting muscles and invasive surgery, the wait and see approach is longer but does work. I’ve been lucky enough to get a full range of movement back albeit with the odd shoulder click.
  7. The medical system is obscure. Not because people don’t want to help (all the medical staff I met were great), but because they see this stuff so often they forget it’s a massive deal for you. My most upsetting moments were from being treated as a statistic or a ‘problem’ rather than a patient. Going private prevents this but even so, make a point of asking questions and pushing for answers.
  8. If you break your collarbone and have it strapped for any period of time (the most common treatment), expect the Armpit of Doom. It will happen. A combination of hot material from the sling itself, an immobile shoulder and a difficulty in washing can only lead to one result. It’s unpleasant, especially in high summer and has lead me to boggle at the thought of where all that dead skin normally goes. That’s enough for me to say but do your best to stay clean.
  9. The value of a good physiotherapist cannot be over estimated. I’ve been to a few over the years but the one that worked on me after I was out of the sling was the best I’ve had. After that length of time immobile you lose strength dramatically but also flexibility to the point where my elbow wouldn’t straighten and I couldn’t get my arm above my head or behind my back. The physio sorted all that and now I’m fine. And armpit massages (cf. the Armpit of Doom) are odd, painful and embarrassing in equal measure.
  10. Fitness. If you are injured, you will lose fitness. There’s nothing you can do about this but don’t be tempted to ‘get back on the horse’ too soon. It may be tempting but the consequences of another injury are both more time off the bike and potentially far worse damage to deal with long term. Wait until the physio says it’s OK to start training and do exactly what they say. When you do get back to riding, the first ride or so will be fine, after which the extended layoff will really sap your strength. Remember you’re still healing from a big injury. For me, I’ve ended up with a couple of colds and general tiredness for quite a while now and pushing harder doesn’t help. As I’ve said, listen to your body and play the long game.
  11. Be prepared for depression. Not necessarily the ‘whole world’s against me’ kind (although it might be) but longer term flatness and lack of enthusiasm. For me, not riding the whole summer, missing out on outdoor air and sunshine plus general tiredness and the knowledge that your mates are still riding has taken it’s toll, leaving me ill, unfit and fed up. Again, play the long game, beating it requires keeping a clear idea in your head of where you want to be and not being distracted by relatively small hurdles that get in the way. Don’t allow yourself to do stuff you don’t want but don’t let other easy excuses get in your way. Things like poor weather, wife has got used to you being around on Sundays, bike’s not quite right excuses don’t wash. Just do it.
  12. MTB Mojo—this is the hardest part of your recovery. Personally I’m not there yet. There are times when you start riding again that you find yourself just plain scared of hurting yourself again. Once you know what it involves you don’t want to experience it again. Besides, the definition of an idiot is someone who doesn’t learn from past mistakes. This is a tough one, you can’t just pick up where you left off but of course you know deep down that you can do it because you’ve done it before. For me, returning to riding in the autumn when everything is/was covered in slippery leaves and mud made it worse and there have been times when I’ve just wanted take up Tiddlywinks instead. You can’t force things and in my case I can’t shake the thought that my injury was stupendously close to a full on high–speed head–first disaster, in which case I might not be worrying about riding again at all. I’ve been really lucky and in those circumstances it’s best not to tweak the nose of danger again too soon. I know it will return but I’ll let it come to me rather than going looking for it.

So there’s my thoughts. Basically, the injury hurts and the sensation of muscles shortening, withering and cramping up through inactivity can be extremely uncomfortable, but your body will heal.

You can have it pinned or wait for nature and there’s pros and cons with either option which depending on the opinion and employer of who you’re talking to you won’t get. But basically people do want to help, so keep pushing for answers.

Watch out for the Armpit of Doom and accept that it takes time to recover from a big break. I never realised how much blood there is in bones for example which leads to bruising and swelling which can take weeks to dissipate.

Finally, let mountain biking come to you once you’ve recovered, don’t try and prove a point to yourself (or worse, others) but don’t use feeble excuses to stay away either.

For me, after six months, I think I’m starting to enjoy it again…


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

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  1. mike61 says:

    Matt, totally agree.

    I was out for a while with mtb induced broken ribs March–May of this year and both myself and buddies don’t think my fitness is yet back to normal.

    Point 12 is very true. Confidence returns but it is a frustrating wait.

    • Zoe says:

      What a helpful read! My 16 year old son has broken his collarbone and this was exactly the sort of honest insight I was hoping to find! Thank you. So much of what you’ve said is ringing true and that’s been reassuring.

      • Jenny says:

        This has honestly been the best read on a broken collarbone I’ve read yet. Mine was not due to mountain biking but rather my 109 lb dog seeing a squirrel & me not paying attention….. & mine was not a clean break. Mine was completely shattered, had to get the surgery! My incision is 8.5 inches long & reaches down my left shoulder. I’m 2 weeks in & cannot find any real comfort in anything besides your post. So thank you sir. Hope you’re riding like normal again & no longer afraid! I would no wish this pain on anybody but maybe Hitler, MAYBE. That’s how terrible it’s been for me.

  2. Matt says:

    Cheers Mike, it’s frustrating losing fitness you’ve worked hard to gain. Although you think you’ve still got it, it’s only after a couple of weeks you realise how far you have to go.

    Confidence is a long way behind but I was glad at how I rode BKB on Sunday’s year end ride so I hope I’m heading in the right direction.

  3. zeeyaa says:

    All what Matt has said is what I’m going through now. I broke my collarbone 3 weeks ago in car accident… its definetly not fun for the first 2 weeks…

  4. Jamie says:

    When I busted my arm I did a lot of time on the turbo. It’s difficult to get any exercise when you are busted up like that but even though a stationary bike is boring the exercise makes you feel better.

    My break looked like yours on the xray but it didn’t hurt as much and I was healed up in text book time, 6 weeks to drive a car, 12 weeks to ride a bike again.

  5. DaveH says:

    Great and very thorough blog post – and thanks for the comment on mine about my broken collarbone too in similar circumstances.

    Ironically the surgeon I first spoke to – a day after I broke mine – when I was still in a bit of a state and a good deal of pain – talked about how they might pin it. That made me optimistic – because having seen the x-ray I thought that there was no way it would heal itself in a decent way.

    I still think they made a bad call – mine’s a mess and although I can ride a bike I still feel like my movement’s impaired enough to never swim properly and lifting things above my head will be a long hard road.

    Pinning does have its own implications but I think that the current health system relies too much on surgeon / consultant motivation. What possible motivation could there be for a consultant to want to cut into me? As you point out, it represents problems of its own.

    I still can’t help but feel that I’d have been pinned if I’d somehow explained how important exercise is to me (to the overweight consultant!).

    Good to hear your tale of recovery though… hope our cycling paths cross one day.

  6. matty clark says:

    Hi thanks for taking the time to explain your ordeal i myself have broken the end of my collar bone when in affan on penheed final section about 4 weeks ago went to hospital in wales and they said it wasn’t bren so drove to work for a week and went to see a consultant in portsmouth who re-xrayed it and said it was broken. Iam trying to figure out when i can drive legally as its still 4 weeks till i see the consoltant.

  7. Andy C says:

    The issue of driving with a serious injury is more of an insurance problem. You will need to contact your insurance company, explain where you are in the treatment and what you can do, and get some confirmation in writing if they say you are ok to drive.

    I’ve just fractured my metacarpal (see “Andy’s hurt his hand”) and am in a plastic semi cast which prevents me gripping a wheel at the moment. As soon as this is removed I will be on to the insurance company, but it’s down to them if they say you are covered or not, and sadly I have yet to find any insurance company that likes to take a risk without a huge premium.

  8. Angela says:

    hi matt!!
    i realise this is a little old but i am so grateful to have found this blog! 🙂

    i have also fractured my right collarbone from driving into a tree.. it sounds funny but its not really in real life haha

    im just wondering when was there signs of healing shown on your xrays? with me its been 4 weeks and theres no patchment of the bones yet.
    my xray looks alot like yours. now the specialist ( 2 different ones) are suggesting that i get the surgery.
    my general doctor says to wait.
    if you could tell me when yours started to heal in the xray it will help me heapssss

    thankyou and i agree with all the above. lol thankfully it is winter here. theres no smelly armpits haha!

  9. paul901 says:

    Angela, each break seems to be different and the system is notorious for ambiguity. I think part of it is the uncertain nature of clavicle breaks and that 90% will heal without surgery but it takes several weeks to know. The medical world prefer not to elect for surgery straight away and monitor you instead unless it’s a bad break which they don’t believe will heal. In total it takes the body about 21 weeks apparently.

    In the case of my partner hers did not heal, our consultancy advice gave us too little information and after a month she was in the same amount of pain and had neck soreness presumed to be from trapped nerves. She was not getting the kind of natural recovery and trapezium support that some others are lucky enough to get. So we paid £200 for a private consultancy and could have paid £5000 for private surgery but were not happy to do so. 2cm of movement seemed to be the magic number and at the time of the accident it was less but by about 2 months it was 1.9cm. So her instincts were right the X-rays said so (we took screen prints on our camera phone each time) and at the point the hospital said it was borderline. She was adamant to the hospital team that she was in pain, that as a Mother she needed to be able to pick up her child, as a painter she needed full arm movement above the head and in general wanted full arm rotation swimming freestyle etc. She got upset in front of them and at that point they sought permission from the boss and then agreed to operate, thankfully it happened within the next month.

    She described the operation as a relief as the neck pain disappeared, the shoulder was supported, the shortening corrected and movement began to return properly. Yes, she had a scar she didn’t like, the clavicle line bulged a bit with the plate under the skin and she also had an area of skin surface with no feeling but she was glad she had taken the surgery. The plate continued to bother her and after another 3 months she had it removed and that was more relief.

    So, just another perspective as there doesn’t seem to be a universal answer. If you’re not happy with progress don’t let it go, persevere with what you think is right for you and hang in there through the misery of it if yours is a bad break!

  10. Angela says:

    hi Paul
    thank you for your input.. im wondering how she felt after the surgery?? was she in pain, could she sleep properly in bed?
    the thing with me is.. the pain seems to be subsiding but its not joined yet 🙁 its been 4.5 weeks almost.. i am just scared to go surgery… but hearing about your partner and how relieved she was i guess its not as frightening as i thought it would be.
    best wishes and thankyou again !

  11. paul901 says:

    Hi Angela, my good lady says that whilst she naturally felt nervous about surgery and knew she would have post-op pain for a few days these were less important than getting it sorted. Her father had serious cycling accidents in their native Colombia and said to her to get it done right from the start. Generally available information said don’t let it heal badly, you don’t want the tissue fusion if it’s not aligning properly. If I recall correctly, Amanda said surgery was the best thing for her too when she broke hers.

    Good luck with it, maybe Amanda will see this and post too.

  12. Angela says:

    hi Paul
    thank u so much again and to your lovely partner 🙂
    i have made an appointment for surgery next week… daunting but somewhat exciting as i know it will heal properly hehe

    thanks also Amanda!!

    best wishes

  13. David baker says:

    Hi everyone, I have read all your comments fascinated by how accurate they are.

    I am currently in week two post braking my RH clavicle as a result of riding recklessly down hill in the recent British snow. In my defence it was difficult in the flat light to see the ramp the kids had made which sent me over the handle bars.

    Having broken my clavicle before (childish motorcycle accident quite some time ago) I never get up from a tumble without the thought of a possible break! This one was particularly hard and fast so at first I was pleased only to have one brake!

    Because of the previous brake my collarbone broke in the 1st 1/3 medial, which means it broke at the sternum end. This I have found out is quite rare and leaves the medical proffessionals with a dilemma of how best to traet.
    My fist consultant with the fracture clinic after A&E just looked at the X-ray and diagnose natural healing even though through the pain of self examination I had expressed my alarm as to how high the sturnum join seems to be and the pressure it was applying to my neck/ wind pipe. I had no pain to breath in fact from my previous brake I was relatively pain free except from that nauseating feeling of bone on bone movement.

    Everyone I have spoken too has said expect a lump, I’ve had a lump for the passed 20 years from the last brake but I’m not happy about its direction and its likley hood of restricting movement in the future! I ride MTB/road and motorcycle, I also swim and run and was looking fwd to a year of triathlons. All of which I will need full range of movement in shoulder and the neck.

    Well that’s me, but my question is this, with only just over a weeks healing (going well) should I insist on seeing the consultant again early to talk about possible long term effects of just leaving it to heal naturally? Should I push for surgery if its even possible now I’ve started to heal? I’m not afraid of surgery if the outcome is that I can resume my sports.


    • Matt says:

      Wow, that’s a tough call!

      First off, bad luck breaking your collarbone, we’ve all been messing about in the snow recently and had our share of tumbles, fortunately without incident. If you have competitive plans it really is especially frustrating.

      I’m no medical expert but I’d say if you have concerns you really need to pursue them with your medical contacts, either through private health or the NHS.

      The problem is always to balance the risk of intervention versus the risk of doing nothing. It’s very hard for anyone, even professionals, to come to a firm decision over this – there’s so many variables – but as many different opinions as possible would help.

      I was lucky, in the end I have a full range of movement back, albeit with clicks in certain directions, after allowing it to heal naturally. Other friends have not been as lucky, requiring further surgery from injuries much closer to the shoulder joint.

      Good luck David, hope it works out OK and sorry I can’t help more really.

    • Dandy says:

      Bad luck, Dave. I would echo Matt’s comment. Medics often dismiss the need for full movement of joints by the general public, not expecting them to want to take part in the types of activities that readers of this forum often enjoy!

      I guess like many of us that you’re not the youngest guy on the block, which again colours the medics’ judgement further. Go and seek a second opinion immediately, and explain (if you haven’t already) that you need guaranteed full movement for the triathlons you regularly enjoy.

      • Jim Sutherland says:

        High David
        Wondering what the long term outcome has been. I am 4 weeks into a medial clavicular fracture which was thought at first to be a dislocation as the end is now so high I can feel it swallowing. It’s now pain free there but I have awful pain above and behind my shoulder blade.
        So what do you think I have to come in terms of pain in my shoulder and swallowing sensation?

  14. Karen says:

    Broke my collarbone 8/23/14 surgery 8/29/14. Dr did not push for surgery. Pain was unbearable. Demoral was nectar from the gods but do yourself a favor, take miralax every day. Not a biker but am fitness instructor. It is like losing my right arm this thought that I should be teaching my classes but can’t drive till 10/10/14. Bobo!!! Did agree on suegery, turns out bones were shattered so I am plated and screwed, and not in the good way. Patience and 3 adorable grandchildren are getting me through but it ain’t cute. Thanks for the stories from other clavicle catastrophes. Will be diligent with therapy getting


    • Matt says:

      Hi Karen, sorry to hear about your break, it’s no fun being injured when you’re perfectly healthy but at least bones heal. It does get better but I remember the three week stage being quite frustrating as apart from being incapacitated you want to just get back to normal.

      Good luck with your recovery!

  15. Michele says:

    Hi Matt and everyone else, Like other have said, I’m really, really happy to have found this page! I came off my bike 8 weeks ago onto a nasty hard London road, and woke up in hospital hours later with a broken right clavicle and head fractures. I think I was really lucky to wake up at all actually, given the London traffic! Anyway, my clavicle fracture has a 1.6cm overlap, and it looks pretty much like yours in the picture Matt; actually it has looked the same for the last 8 weeks, and at my follow-up meeting with an orthopaedic consultant after yet another x-ray yesterday, he said that by now it should be showing signs of callus growth and healing and as it isn’t he asked me if I wanted to go down the route of surgery with plate and screws straight away.

    That’s really why I’ve ended up here, because having agreed to have it done because it was offered, and because a couple of people I know have said it’d be a good idea, I really don’t know if it’s the right thing to do at this stage. My shoulder and arm have been the main problem, and the clavicle break doesn’t seem to hurt much at all when pushed, or even when vibrated with a tuning fork!. The all-round pain in the area has got better week by week, but obviously at this stage I still can’t put my right arm across me, or behind me, or anywhere very high above me, and I’d like to know if I’ll be able to in the future? I did have lots of tension in my neck and where the spine goes into the skull – perhaps I have become more used to that now, or perhaps it’s easing with some help from a cranial osteopath who was recommended to me, and who was brilliant.

    I have a fairly active job involving follow-spotting with fairly large lamps, which means I do need to reach across myself with my right arm quite a lot to adjust things on the lamp whilst operating it; and I do usually cycle everywhere, though it may be a while yet before I do again.

    My question is, will surgery leave me worse off in the end or better off? And crucially, how soon after the surgery will I be able to do the job I’ve described, as I’ve had to turn down work over the last couple of months and I’ve been offered good work that’ll start 2½ weeks after the op. The consultant said I can do pretty much anything a couple of days after the op (including going away on holiday on a plane!), but I’m really not convinced about that, and I certainly won’t be trying any Ryanair flights any time soon.

    Also, how do the scars and the inserted stainless steel plates and screw turn out? I’m just pretty anxious generally about it now, and really would appreciate any advice.

    If you’re still reading Angela, I hope you’re doing well now after 2 years down the line, and thanks for your comments back to her paul901, I found them really interesting.

  16. Heather says:

    I had a major surgery on my shoulder, i was in a immobility for 6 months. I still have not got full range back and its been two years. Right after i got over the MTB i got on my ATV and had a bad accident with my dad, he got broken ribs, and I had hurt my shoulder once more and broke my wrist and got a concussion. He was driving but he still won’t allow me near an ATV. It is horrible not able to do something you love. I’ve got my fitness back but not the one thing I love.

  17. Ramesh says:

    Hi guys

    Can u believe a surgeon breaking his collar bone? Here I am. I am a child surgeon (not ortho). Being a doctor actually does nt help to decide better. Half my friends are ortho. Its interesting half say surgery. Half say wait.

    Mine is exactly like yours. Rt middle 1.8 cm displaced. As you say each case is different I suppose. There is no right and wrong or the best way to deal with it.

    I am 12 days post injury. Decided wait and watch approach over surgery. No pain at break but muscles cramps and soreness are really bothering. Moving position in bed or sofa is what makes the fragment move. I dont know how to control that. Also I am getting worried whether I will need operation after 4 wks of wait. Should I hv opted for early surgery to regain shoulder movements quickly? I will know only after 4 weeks.

    Doctors actually dont elaborate on what you will go thru. Your blog was really helpful. I hope I know when will it heal when can I drive and when can I get back to work.

    But its hard to be inactive and frustration/ depression is hard to tide over.

    • Dandy says:

      Hang on in there, Ramesh; and maybe get on an exercise bike as soon as the pain allows. This really reminds you how boring and tedious these machines are, and you’ll appreciate getting back onto a real bike even more 😉

    • Patty McGrath says:

      Fell off my bike end of February 2021, fractured my clavicle, and was talked into surgery. Plate was removed one year later. This has been the biggest mistake of my life and I would encourage anyone to allow your body to heal on it own before undergoing this procedure. Even with the surgery and a bone stimulator it took eleven months to heal, possibly due to a metal allergy. I developed CRPS, which has improved somewhat, but I’m still dealing with today with no end in sight. PT helped in the beginning, but is no longer working. I have scar tissue and numbness still, that is not responding to treatments. I did five sessions of Shockwave therapy that helped a little. I have high nickel levels in my body from the plate, which is associated ith an elevated cancer risk. I’m left on my own to figure this out because the doctors are done with me. They don’t give you a realistic assessment of possible complications, which occur in approximately 15% of cases. Please do your research, don’t be stupid like I was.

      • Matt says:

        Patty, sorry to hear this. I’m not sure I’d call your decision stupid at all, it was made in good faith and it’s so hard to know.

        I am guessing you are in the US and think partly its a symptom of an insurance-based system that’s keen to bill, versus in the UK where we have our ‘free at the point of use’ NHS. The flipside to that is, with the NHS they prefer to leave things alone because it can be cheaper, especially as the NHS will use titanium!

        Either way, you want to have healthcare professionals focussed on the best outcome for you.

        When I was healing it took forever but I was lucky my employer was cool with that; not everyone gets that choice (which can also be a factor in what you choose). Added to which, every injury is different, every person is different and some collarbones need pinning regardless.

        But I agree, research is important. All things being equal I’d say wait on Mother Nature but your own injury, or your own circumstances mean it is unlikely to be a clear cut choice.

        I hope your injury continues to improve. I’ve found the best thing is to keep mobile as much as you can and work at keeping muscular strength in the shoulder but also, not to be too hard on yourself!

  18. Ramesh says:


    4 weeks over since I broke my rt collar bone and went down the conservative treatment. Better in several ways. Able to get up easier. Can sleep flat. Of sling. Bone ends sticky now not moving. Not paining when car goes over mumps. No need to splint and hold shoulder with opposite hand to do things. Able to eat with a spoon in right hand. Started going to work alternate days. However…

    Cant sit for more than 2 hours as all muscles start aching. Have to take a break, lay flat for 15 mt, then I can sit for another 2 hrs. I dont know why. May be the soft union between bone ends put to stress? And muscles cramp up to protect it?

    Xray wise no big change. They say it may take 12 wks to see proper bony union. But nowthat ends are sticky and soft union is there gentle shoulder physio has been started. In fact from third week isometric shoulder exercises and passive roations have been started. This has helped a lot in getting shoulder muscles back to work. Still elevation of arm above shoulder and weight bearing banned.

    I feel plate and screw fixation would have made my recovery faster and less painful. By now I would hv been able to sit for 6-8 hours? I suppose it may take another two months for that to happen with the current non operative management.

    Its scary when I read about shortening of collar bone altering shoulder mechanics. Plus there are concerns of malunion excess lump leading to compresssion of nerves all what not.

    I would recommend early fixation with plate and screw on day 1 if possible if you want swift recovery in 3-4 weeks for future netizens who end up breaking a collar bone.

    I will let you know how I have done after may be 4 more weeks.


  19. Ramesh says:

    Let me continue the story.

    I broke my right collarbone and 6 weeks down conservative treatment I was not able to sit for more than 3 hrs in a stretch due to nagging pain. Although I got full arm movements I could do all activities only for up to 3 hrs.

    So took a repeat x ray and also insisted on a CT scan. This time it was easier for the orthopod to make a decision. There was no callus formation and it was diagnosed as fibrous nonunion. It means ends of broken collarbone have closed off and a rubbor like fibrous tissue was holding it together. As it was not bony union I could not go on for more than 3 hrs. So it was decided to operate.

    The surgery took 3 hrs (simple plate and screw on first week would have been 1 hr surgery). The orthopod had to excise all fibrous tissue. There was some muscle interposition preventing union. The doctor had to remove all unwanted tissues, freshen the edges of the closed off collarbone ends, align them and put plate and screws. In addition a small bone graft was taken from arm to stimilate bone growth. Thats why it took 3 hrs.

    Now I am one week post surgery. I could lay flat on bed. I could sit for more than 4 hrs without dragging pain. I could eat and brush using right hand in one week (this was possible only 5 weeks after conservative treatment). I am sure in another week or two I will start exercises to regain muscle strength.

    So guys who are going to break collarbone dont worry about plate and screws. It takes a week to start arm movements and 2-4 to gain strength/ get back to work. Of course children are exception. They get better same time without surgery. But if you are above 25 yrs and going for non operative treatment, it still might unite (malunion is not an issue with collarbone) but it might well take 8 weeks and think whether you can take that much time off. Thinking back had I known this long I would have insisted on surgery first week itself.


    • Sandra Female Dwyer says:

      Thank you for your posts, hope all is well now 2 years later. I am 4 weeks into rt clavicle break – 2 cm overlap with bones too far apart to join and with no firm advice which way to go. The consultants say it will heal and be usable in about another 8 weeks or have op with all the risks and maybe discomfort from the plate as my skin is thin at that point, after reading your posts I am considering op. I’m glad I found this post everyone seems to have similar experience, its the first time in my almost 60 yrs i have broken a bone and its good to read of others experiences.

  20. Lizzie says:


    This has been a great find as I lie here unable to sleep because of the pain in my left shoulder. I too have a broken clavicle. I came off my road bike on the 23rd November 2014. I was going pretty fast. I’m not sure what happened but my shoulder and helmet came off worst. My xray looks pretty much like Matts but I’ve also got a floaty bit.

    On the day of the accident, the A&E doctor said they wouldn’t operate and would leave it to heal on its own. Luckily I’m right handed so apart from extreme pain, not managing to sleep much, being constipated and overall grumpy, I could scoop my food and use the remote.

    I visited the orthopaedic doctor two weeks after my fall. I explained to him I worked in the public sector so was crucial I was able to regain full strength. He sent me away with some exercises and a new sling (just collar and cuff) and told me to come back in 4 weeks and he would see whether I needed surgery. Firstly, the new collar and cuff thingy was abandoned. I was in too much pain on the upper arm and shoulder as it gave no support whatsoever.

    Almost six weeks in, I’ve not taken a painkiller for a week and I haven’t worn my sling for over a week yet I still have pain. My sticky out collarbone hurts at times and it’s like there’s something jaggy in there. I think it’s the floaty bit bone. When I lie flat on the floor i feel a sharp pain on my left shoulder blade too. Having this injury sucks!!

    On the plus side, I’ve managed three upright short spins on the turbo. It’s not the same as being out there on the road or trails but at this moment, it’s the next best thing. I contemplated swimming, but everything I’ve read says no.

    I haven’t embraced driving yet so that’s my next goal. My range of movement is better but I can’t move my arm above or over my head. Oh the joys.

    Anyhoo, here’s hoping the doctor will xray me next week and shed some light on what the next plan of action is.

    Sorry if I’ve havered on folks but I’ve been awake for hours. It’s kept me occupied 🙂

  21. Lizzie says:

    Ps I’m tired but awake. Just to expand, I work in the emergency services so need full strength asap.

  22. Bob says:

    Thank you for this post, I am beginning week #3 and the insight is beneficial. Haven’t met with the Physical Therapist yet. The web is providing me with much better information than the Orthopedic clinic. They seem detached and are sluggish and unresponsive.

    • Kylie says:

      I have minimally displaced distal clavicle fracture . 2 weeks in. The doc said I don’t really need the sling since the bones are lined up nice: so I have just been using the sling for stair after and for long walks. I can use my arm pretty well but honestly wearing the sling hurts more it feels like there is more pressure on my collarbone and I can feel it banging around more. Does anyone have this experience? Should I be wearing my sling anyways?

  23. Beth says:

    I hate this! I too am sat up in middle of the night unable to sleep because of pain, despite the fact I’ve taken tramodol!

    I only have a crack up by the shoulder end of clavicle. They said it was a clean crack and should heal quickly. It didn’t seem that bad, but had road rash that seemed more painful, but now that’s cleared up all I can feel is the shoulder. (I ran too fast down a hill in race and absolutely stacked it)

    Did anyone else get really weird pins and needles or goose bump sensations in their arm, hand and upper back? It seems to be getting worse and it’s been 16 days post accident. I have been keeping on top of pain relief and wearing my sling religiously but taking arm out and straightening every hour or so to keep the muscles moving. I took 6 days off work and then went in 4 days part time and now went back full time. It’s defiitely feels worse since, achier from leaning into the sling more I think and back pain from over compensating. How long in average did you guys take off work?

    I’m getting married in 8 weeks then disembarking on a 7 month adventure travelling in 12 weeks – I really want it to heal and trying to do everything I can to help it! Any advice appreciated?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Beth, sorry for the slow response and thanks for sharing your collarbone experiences. I was quite a long time off work as I couldn’t drive and had no public transport (plus being a web developer meant I couldn’t move the mouse or easily type so I wasn’t going to be productive anyway). The best advice for healing is time – every injury is unique and needs it’s own time to heal properly so don’t do too much too soon.

      For me, years after the incident, I will say I’ve made a good recovery. I didn’t really believe that until I went over the bars a year later with no adverse effects!

      These days, I do occasionally wake up with pain in the shoulder joint but it’s not a significant legacy. I hope you make/made a good recovery and congratulations on your wedding!

  24. Bill Cooper says:

    I’m 62, fractured my Right clavicle 3 weeks ago, have been doing physio since day2, and managed to chuck the sling away after 8 days, my advice do all the physio you can lay your arm on! first day back at work today – taking every opportunity to exercise it, ouch that itchy armpit of doom! – a damn good article, best tip – keep those fingers, the wrist and elbow moving as soon as possible as often as possible.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Bill, thanks for your comments. Sounds like you’ve had a very positive recovery if you were able to get rid of the sling so quickly.

      Completely agree about keeping things moving, it’s surprising how quickly things atrophy and that then forms part of the recovery as well so if you can avoid it, all the better.

      Sorry for the slow response as well.

    • Kylie says:

      I have minimally displaced distal clavicle fracture . 2 weeks in. The doc said I don’t really need the sling it’s just for pain relief since the bones are lined up nice: so I have just been using the sling for stair after and for long walks. I can use my arm pretty well but honestly wearing the sling hurts more it feels like there is more pressure on my collarbone and I can feel it banging around more. Was this the experience you had? Did everything still heal ok? Did you do any workouts?

  25. pauline says:

    broke my let collarbone 1st nov 2015 xrays show still not joining am getting some mobility back but the pain from shoulder down to elbow mainly in the bicep muscle unbearable after walking for about 15 mins not started physio yet tried swimming but hurts to much Dr not recomending surgery just wishthe pain would go away when walking anyone got any suggestions

    • Matt says:

      Pauline, sorry to hear your recovery has been so long, must have been a nasty break. If the ends are not joining then there’s not much you can do to stay active, but after 8 weeks plus I’d be looking for some clear answers from the bone specialists (I’m not medically qualified myself).

      Good luck and you have my sympathy!

    • Anita John says:

      Hi Pauline

      I finally had my collar bone pinned on 23/12 after first breaking it on 19th March 2015 in a skiing accident. After 3 months I was convinced it was healing but I still had pain on walking long distances & the X-rays showed a non-union. They recommended surgery but after 3 months I really didn’t want it – to be honest I thought it might make things worse. Although I was in occasional pain, couldn’t swim properly or cycle or play tennis I convinced myself it would get better with time. It didn’t & I finally opted for surgery. I’m two weeks in and typing this with two hands – but still don’t know if it’s going to heal. After coming round from the operation (which was fine!) my consultant told me my collarbone had shown absolutely no sign of healing and I still have a 10 to 15 % chance it won’t heal even with the op – some people are like that & unfortunately I seem to fall into that category. Only time will tell!

      Do your X-rays show signs of healing? After 9 months (before the op) I did feel a lot better & apparently a lot of people are happy to live like that with some pain & not doing much exercise. I need to exercise as I also have high blood pressure.

      I think like everyone has said here it takes time, it’s not easy and you finally have to decide what’s best for you & your lifestyle. It’s one of those”take stock of your life” moments & you have to be patient – although patient I know is the most frustrating thing in the world.

      Good luck with it – I hope it heals soon!

  26. Stuart Parsons says:

    Hey Matt,

    I thought you’d be all collarboned out by now, what with everyone’s stories! Hope not, as I have one to add to the list ?

    I’m 40 years old and came off a motorbike two weeks ago with all the force transferring down my shoulder from where it hit the road (the bike was relatively unscathed). I went for my two-week x-ray today, but the doctor seemed not to be able to tell me anything beyond the fact that the bone “hasn’t moved”. From looking at the x-ray and also from what he said, although a clean break, the two sides of the break still seemed pretty much aligned immediately after impact (i e on the first x-ray I had two weeks ago). However he did say that the extent of this alignment could be misleading. In comparison to the picture of your own break you posted above, I would say that the two sides of my fracture look to be much more in line.

    He told me they couldn’t tell if any healing has taken place yet because I am, in his words “not that young” ???

    I know you are not a medical professional but I value the opinion of someone who had similar problems. I suppose my biggest fear now is that I might not be able to return to the martial arts I was practicing; of course, I never would consider returning to it for a considerable amount of time even if I was sure things were going well with the bone.

    Your article is encouraging, though, so thanks for that.


    • Matt says:

      Hi Stuart, I have really enjoyed hearing from other people who have had the misfortune to break their collarbone. Everyone’s story is different and while you won’t die from the injury it can be extremely frustrating in terms of recovery.

      I broke my collarbone around the same age as you and found that keeping the broken ends reasonably in line helped the process, which makes sense.

      This did mean a long time relatively immobile though but as I work as a web developer and wouldn’t have been able to use the mouse anyway it just meant a lot of time off work and an understanding employer. We don’t all have that luxury.

      Once the process had kicked in though it healed pretty well and I don’t have any long term issues apart from an occasional painless click (and occasional night-time ache) and a lump where the bone healed. I realised things were OK after coming off the bike a year later and landing on that side again, without any further damage.

      Good luck with the recovery, the medics usually know what they’re doing but are not great at explaining things, so keep asking them questions!

  27. Dawn Tesarowski says:

    Two weeks after completing my first half marathon on my 55th birthday, I fell hard while running and broke a triangular chunk off the end of my right clavicle, as well as fracturing the coracoid process (I had to Google that one!!)My ortho said I needed surgery, but seeing as how this happened ten days before my daughter’s wedding, he set the surgery date for after the wedding. I managed with painkillers and a sling, sleeping upright and rearranging the pillows endlessly through the night.

    Surgery went well, and I used a sling for 6 weeks. I started physical therapy after 6 weeks, but it was very slow going. I had to wait six months before the ortho would remove the plate and screws, as the coracoid was quite fragile. I had the removal surgery and a manipulation 12 days ago and am now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but I still have a lot of p.t. ahead.

    The ortho told me it would be a yearlong recovery even though I did not believe him at first. The waiting to heal has been difficult. I started running (slow jogging, really) again as soon as I was out of the sling, but I’ve yet to get the okay to ride my bike from my physical therapist. I have been very diligent about doing my exercises as prescribed by my p.t.

    I could really relate to the points you made in your article. Thanks for listening…it’s been a long haul!! Looking forward to getting back on my bike and grateful for the excellent care I have received through both surgeries and from the physical therapist.

  28. Kiefer says:

    Hi. Great posts everybody. I broke my right clavicle skiing three weeks ago. Had surgery a few hours after accident. I now have a plate and sixteen screws. One main break and a number of small pieces. Even after surgery – have a few floating pieces.

    I have surprisingly good range of motion but it hurts constantly. Would have thought after three weeks pain would be better. Any info from those who had surgery about when pain goes away?


  29. Dan R says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the informative site, like most I found that my personal well being was greatly helped by shared knowledge and whilst the physicians have been great, they don’t have a great deal of time to provide you with explanations and details
    My story:
    I broke my collarbone (clavicle:-) whilst on a road bike during a training ride. Road was wet, hit a patch of diesel, went down front wheel first and landed 80% on the point of my shoulder hard!!!

    Knew instantly that it was broken, as I had the “arm across the stomach” classic pose:-). I was surprised just how obvious it was. Pain and shock followed and then movement was very painful. Luckily I was with friends so off to A and E.

    X-Ray’s showed middle third fracture with displacement. A and E was a bit confusing with lots of new terms (tenting/non-Union/displacement) but very little options. It was not life threatening (severe tenting/puncture) can be, so I was put in a makeshift sling and told to come back to fracture clinic later that week.

    At that appointment I had read up on the fracture, types and outcomes, and that info was invaluable. I was given the option of surgery or non-surgical and without research I don’t think I’d have been in a position to make an informed choice.

    I decided to go for surgery for personal reasons, and having seen the X-ray I couldn’t see how a union would occur, therefore the risk of shortening, loss of movement, nerve damage seemed high. Knowing all of the pros and cons was critical in making this decision.

    I also was aware that surgery was most likely to have the best outcome if undertaken at the right point in the bone healing process, 10-14 days.

    I was in the following Tuesday 10 days after the break. At this point I could use my arm quite a lot (lift above shoulder), did not have a great deal of pain, but had deformity, bone clicking and dull ache.

    I was in overnight, although you can be discharged the same day. The surgery went well, and apart from the usual discomfort with being cut and screwed, it wasn’t that painful. Pain was managed for the next 24 hrs, and I was discharged with some painkillers, although after 2-3 days I had stopped using them.

    After surgery I was informed that my fracture was worse than visible on the X-ray, was broken in 6 places, with a fragment sticking into the muscle. This made me glad I had the surgery, as it would have had to happen eventually anyway.

    Due to the break, the plate could only be fixed at the ends, meaning that I had to keep it more immobile than usual due to the risk of twisting and loosening the screws resulting in the plate being removed.

    So next was 2 weeks in the sling with no movement. Probably the hardest phase for me! Like you said, I’m not a smelly person lol, but the armpit of doom is horrible:-( Personal hygiene in general is really difficult, as is dressing and pretty much anything you take for granted. Having one useable hand is difficult, although with help, you do adapt. The next 2 weeks weren’t that painful, although lack of sleep due to not being able to sleep on anything but your back, was a real pain. I ended up getting up during the night lots, watching TV, and napping lots during the days. As others have said, sitting up with pillows is most comfortable.

    2 weeks after surgery, I had a review appointment and had the dressing and stitches removed. They were pleased with the wound healing and the stitches were like fishing wire, and came out with no pain and very little discomfort. The scar is thin, about 5-6 inches, and looks like it will fade.

    I was also told I would need my sling for a further 2 weeks, but I could start doing some light physio, pendulums, rotations etc, without weight bearing or resistance.

    It’s now a week later, I have had the sling off for periods which allow for washing (phew) and walking, some light movements, but no strength. I can feel the plate moving with my arm, and though the skin at the end nearest to my neck, but it isn’t visible externally. I do intend to get it removed as it is safer for future cycling, but I’m sure you don’t need to if you aren’t active.

    At this stage I do have a sharp pain in my forearm when I straighten it fully or extend my arm out and back, but I’m hoping this is muscular due to sling syndrome, and not a nerve issue. (It really does hurt!). If it doesn’t improve I’ll have to review my options. The.NHS were great throughout, every aspect was very efficient, but you do need to find information out yourself if you want to make the right choices. I did find that ultimately they present you with options rather than mandate a course of action, so information is key.

    I will update at week 4 X-ray, but hopefully I’m now in the road back.

    My advice, get good tyres:-) do research your options, listen to your body, rest and eat well.

    I hope this helps, will keep you posted. Good luck, keep riding/skiing or whatever crazy stuff you do 🙂

    • Matt says:

      Hi Dan, thanks for taking the time to write up your experience. I get what you say about good tyres – prevention is always better than the cure!

      When I first lost the sling, which in my case was about 6 weeks after my break, the consultant said ‘now put your hand behind your back’. I couldn’t get anywhere near it!! The elbow had basically started to freeze up from being immobile for so long. Hopefully the discomfort you’re experiencing is a similar thing and it will go away as you get back to normal.

      Best wishes for your recovery, and hope you’re back riding soon.

  30. Kerri Wright says:

    I’d just like to say thank you for sharing your experience. I fractured my left clavicle skiing on 28 February 2016 and have just seen a consultant today. I opted to wait and see rather than surgery as I’m convinced it has improved over the past 5 days. The consultant really pushed the surgery option and was not very helpful on alternatives so reading about your experience has really helped me. Thanks again xxx

  31. Jill A says:

    Hi Matt and fellow collarbone breakers,
    Thank you so much for posting this.
    I have broken my left clavicle in a mtb wreck, going over a somewhat easy trail obstacle that I’ve successfully completed a few times before.
    I have found all this info extremely helpful. The break happened March 5, 2015. I see the ortho this Friday. My break looks like yours, Matt. I don’t want surgery but after reading some of the posts I’m leaning more that way.
    I have not had much pain with my break but I don’t like feeling the bones moving when I move my shoulder. I take my arm out of the sling at night and at times throughout the day.
    Since there is not much pain, just an ache every now and then I find myself not wanting to use the sling. It does help keep the bones closer together.
    Thank you all, again for sharing your experiences. It has been very helpful on my decision and knowing what to expect from the drs. I also appreciate the respect that has been shown/spoken for the medical personnel in these posts.
    I am not a dr, but a roofing contractor (3rd generation even tho I’m a female) and it is important for me to be able to climb a ladder ASAP.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Jill, as a roofing contractor you have a better head for heights that me then! Things get a bit ‘Wooo!’ for me when my wheels are six inches off the ground!

      How have things progressed? Did you opt for surgery in the end? It’s always the simple stuff that catches us out isn’t it?

      I think I may have opted for surgery if my occupation needed me back working ASAP. As it was, I had a lot of frustration personally but at no point did my employer give me any hassle which was hugely appreciated. Anybody who is self employed or runs their own business doesn’t have that luxury though and probably should at least look into medical insurance if they can afford to.

  32. François says:

    Hi Matt….on your long post you did not mention how long it did take for the first CAL to touch the 2 bones and how long did it take for ”consolider”the 2 bones……(in weeks.)

    at the end it has 70 to 80% or 100 % of bone to each ends of the bones together.

    like other’s i had that same sort of fracture

    I am at the 7 weeks marks….and at the end of the 2 bones …. there are not much ”thing” that i can see on the XRAYS……but when i touch my collarbone…i dont feel the separation at each end !!!! ( but here is one on the XRAYS………)

    if i press each of the 2 collarbones end .it dont hurt!!!!!

    i have full motion of my arm……….

    the XRAYS and my body are contradictory.

    for next meeting………
    My orthopedist said if i have no much stuff at the ends of my bones…he will suggest surgery.

    i live alone…NO HELP…it is almost impossible to manage the collarbone fracture alone.

    after 8 weeks or 9…. i dont want to start all over : the pain, one hand to do all stuff, and it is my working hand side collarbone that where is the ingery.

    thanks for your answer


    • Matt says:

      Hi Frank, sounds like you’ve had a frustrating time. At least you are not in direct pain from what I understand.

      If your doctor think it needs surgery I think after 7 weeks I’d be inclined to go with it. 7 weeks without obvious healing is a long time although it could be a case of the X-rays not showing what’s going on. You got this far and once the injury is plated then the recovery should be quicker but as I say, I’d listen to the doctor.

      As always, good luck!

  33. Jane says:

    Hi guys, have appreciated reading all your comments. Broke my left clavicle five weeks ago doing a prat fall over some planks the builders had left lying around! Very dull. Went to A&E next morning, yep, bone broken in two places but a clean break, membrane not damaged. Basic sling put on by nice lady who thought I was a proper wuss because I grumbled a bit when she kept moving my shoulder. Back to hospital a week later to see the surgeon, fit note (aka sick note) for another four weeks and a proper shoulder immobiliser issued. Off pain killers after ten days. Back to see surgeon last week, bone ends have knitted, and I nagged and fussed until he said I could get back to work tomorrow (weighbridge operator, nothing strenuous) because being stuck at home was driving me stir crazy. After 5 weeks I can move my arm to shoulder height, and behind my back, but won’t be doing handstands any time soon, lol. I am 60 years old, so I just thought I would share this for the benefit of older people who might be wondering. Toothache and sciatica hurt far more by the way! Thanks x

  34. Shaun says:

    Hi Matt
    On a bike ride, 23 miles in, clipped a guys tyre, over the handlebars I went. All I remember is my helmet hitting the road and the noise of the helmet grinding on the road until I stopped sliding. I remember talking to a few members of the club about how they broke their collar bones. As I sat in the road I reached up and felt mine completely broke. Then it dawned on me I couldn’t breathe. People were asking me if I was ok, I couldn’t take in enough breath to answer and every small breathe I took made me groan in pain. Cars were stopping and there was now a crowd. One lady walked up saying she was a nurse and she would take me to hospital, the nearest being Nuneaton. On the journey to the hospital I went into shock, I thought I was going to die. She kept me calm and stopped me panicking. I never opened my eyes, just moaned at every corner and gear change. I never looked at the car, or the the lady and I never spoke to her. I have no idea who she was, this has caused me upset because I feel I owe her so much.

    I’d punctured my lung, broke 4 ribs and my collar bone. I was in hospital 5 days.

    My collar bone needed an operation and was trying to poke through my skin. The operation has to wait 2 weeks for my lung to heal so home I went.
    I’ve now had a plate fitted to my clavicle and 4 more days in hospital due to poss complications with my lung.

    I have to say, yes, the clavicle did hurt and I agree toothache is worse, but the broken ribs pain was far worse. Sitting, laying down, breathing and moving all hurt. If I coughed, laughed or sneezes the pain was unreal, just a hiccup bent me over in pain. At first I had to have morphine just to breathe and speak.

    I have to say I did suffer with constipation, that was very painful as well.

    Breaking my clavicle has stopped me doing so much, my life has been put on hold. So many things I can’t do. I’m an outgoing fit person and after a while realised I was also suffering from depression.

    7 weeks after accident, 4 weeks after operation I’m sat at home with pain in my elbow and shoulder doing physio.

  35. Shaun says:

    Oh yea, I had the armpit of doom too.

  36. mereana says:

    Hi I broke my right clavicle over a year ago and just like yours, about 4 weeks later I told the doc it didn’t feel right.he said it was healing great. I then got pregnant 2 weeks later. I had another x Ray recently and it showed there is cartilage growth between the bones and it’s been giving me hell, the doc said because of the pregnancy my bones couldnt nit back together. Since then the pain is getting worse, I don’t have surgery for 2 more months. I could be at work but I ride horses for a living and I simply can’t because of this injury.what can I do to get the surgery earlier as I nearly dropped my baby last night after his bath.

  37. Amanda says:

    Hi Matt
    Just like everyone else I have to say thank you for your blog. I broke my left clavicle along with 4 ribs and had to have a chest drain due to broken ribs causing a pneumothorax, I also had a head injury so have no idea what actually happened! I know I was out training for a triathlon on my first bike ride for months, we think I hit a pot hole which caused a 3 inch ish blow out on my front tyre. After 6 days in hospital I was discharged with lots of painkillers. At my first appt was told they couldn’t operate on my clavicle because of the risk of anaesthetic with my lung damage so I would have to take the wait and see option. At 3 weeks post accident X-ray showed no obvious bone growth. I’m now just over 4 weeks post accident and have just stopped using the sling most of the time as I can’t cope with it anymore. Much like some of the others I can only walk/stand/sit for a limited amount of time before the pain gets just too much and I’m puffing and blowing just doing the smallest of things. I’m a swimming teacher so I’m off work and suspect l may be for some time, I’m not allowed to move my arm more than about 45degrees from my side for another week or so and to be honest I wouldn’t want to! any movement like that is way too painful. My worry is that when I go back in a couple of weeks the bone won’t have fixed. I think I can still feel small amounts of bone movement when I move my arm but these aren’t particularly painful so I am praying the ends of the bone havent closed over like some of the others in this thread. How long was it before you could drive? I haven’t had any physio yet but was supposed to have been referred after my last appointment.

  38. Terry says:

    Thanks Matt, I google how long will it take to …..
    Luckily they had to plate mine (broken in 3) after hitting a fallen tree at night, its end of week two, the ribs hurt and the thought of a good night sleep is a distant memory. I think I prefer the pain to the messed up digestive system though. Really miss the exercise and mountain bike but your words of wisdom on getting back into it gently make sense. Hope to be back on a spin bike in a couple of weeks. Just had to cancel the Alps trip in July which your mate Dave is doing.

  39. Jeremy says:

    I was in a car accident in February of this year, 2016. Left my car totaled and my left collarbone fractured. I had a doctor tell me it needed surgery, another told me it would be fine. As far as the accident, who is at fault remains a mystery. I’m not taking fault as it wasn’t my fault. My attorney is still resolving this.

    I didn’t have any medical insurance and nobody to help with my situation, nowhere to get help and no way to pay for any treatments, especially surgery.

    I was finally approved for Medi-Cal a month later (in March) which, if you’re familiar, is medical insurance in California provided to low-income homes/individuals. I was approved low-income because of the accident I’ve been unable to work, no physical work is even possible and I’m receiving no benefits from the government or from anywhere.

    In order for me to get surgery, I needed to find work I could do from a computer (with one arm/hand) before even being able to consider getting surgery and being down for another 4-weeks or longer.

    Its now June. It’s been almost 4 months since the accident and I sit here still with a broken clavicle, limited mobility and lots of pain. Seems I can’t find a solution or the help for me to go through with the surgery. Luckily, I survived, I can move a hell of a lot more than at the beginning, I’m breathing, I can walk, shower, etc., but there is pain.

    It needs surgery. The limitations are frustrating, painful and the bone sticks out far enough you can see even with a shirt on.

    My hope is that this surgery can still happen. I’ve had nowhere really to turn financially for survival during this time and the more time I would need to take off to heal after. This accident has pretty much wiped me off the grid (so it feels) and somehow I’m trapped in a corner I can’t seem to get out of.

    If anyone has any thoughts, experience with something similar or any suggestions please let me know.

    Thanks for listening.

  40. kai says:

    Hi all, really useful insights from everyone, some can definitely relate too. Week 5 for me after double break to the left in a mountain biking accident, first 2 weeks after A&E I could not really move at all without a range of pains, attempting to sleep upright on the sofa I was sitting on until first fracture clinic, given cocodemol but just kept to ibruprofen, first 3 weeks were hard going, sleep is not going to happen. Went in for a coule of emergency appointments in the first month and there was very little progress, after one of these they offered me surgery 2 days later, as mountain biker who does climbing/hiking i was looking around for relevant information on issues related to how they healed for these excercises. As mentioned there is no clear cut answer, each break/person is very individual. Just as I was about to agree to surgery I decided not to as it started to bind. My concerns were about having a plate in and taking another fall on to it, or having to go for a 2nd round to take it out later, other issue mentioned were around rucksacks! 5 weeks in sling has been removed, I can move around a bit and been told I can drive, started shoulder physio. However, mine is overlapping, and also has 2x 1-1.5 inch shards of bone coming directly down from the break, one of these protrudes forward out of the fleshy part and can be felt and seen when i breath in, lean back , drop the shoulder, and look in my blind spot as driving as I found out today. Also I am not fit to drive as lacking strength to do so as I also found out today. My collar bone is shortened, I also have movement in the joint somewhere that is crunking, I hope physio can help with some of this. I have to rest regularly from walking/sitting positions for a bit then can carry on as others have mentioned. Not really seen many others with shards after natural healing, concerned physio may not work effectively around them. Another concern will be around wearing a fully loaded rucksack and the combined pressures the sticking up and the sticking down bits will have. Done a few bones and decided not up for collar bone again! Thing I have learned is your playing the longer game. Did my wrist last year and was racing downhill 5 weeks in still cast, had to cancel all my entries for 3 months this year so far already and been off work for the longest time so far. Good luck everyone!

  41. David Ayton says:

    I broke my collarbone and all of my ribs in a motorbike accident in Bangkok I used to be supremely fit and was a keen triathlete and did shotokan karate and used to manage sports and leisure centres and was a trained subaqua diver. I have now made a full recovery and have bought diving gear so start diving again and get myself back into shape. I would advise others to not become lazy and remain positive in all aspects of your life.

  42. Caroline says:

    Thanks, I found reading this really helpful.

    I broke my collar bone almost 20 years ago when parasendkng on Holiday. My collar bone healed fine. But my shoulder remains out of alignment and has resulted in problems with my back and shoulder muscles. This still remains a frustrating challenge for me as nhs professionals insist my posture is the cause. However a Physio friend said clearly my right shoulder works differently to the left. So I’m doing some shoulder stability exercises, these seem to help. Although I still get pain around my right rhomboid I sometimes think my shoulder blade is rubbing agains the muscles next to my spine. I can’t sit on most chairs, and can only lie on my back. I feel frustrated that this has had such an impact on my life.

    But anyway, feeling better now that I am looking at my back problem as a misaligned shoulder. And hopefully when I eventually get to the top of the physio waiting list again, and I share this new insight I may get more suitable treatment.

    Thanks, the side that people don’t take seriously is how it affects your life, being cautious about doing things…. I certainly wasn’t cautious before my accident. I didn’t even want to fly for a couple of years after.

    Its good to hear from others who have been in a similar situation and not feeling that nhs practitioners take you seriously.

    So my search to get to the bottom of this…still goes on. In my mind a simple Mri would show what my problem is, but that seems to be the last thing the nhs is prepared to do. I must be refered to physio first. Which I’ve been waiting for since March.

  43. Andrew says:

    Thanks for such detailed and reassuring advice – all so true. Each break is different – mine was very close to the shoulder Joint, and I’ve been in excruciating pain on and off for nearly 3 weeks. Some days it is barely noticeable, while on others it is debilitating. I can’t really take pain medication – it doesn’t work for me (genetic) and I have also had to keep working from day 1 after the accident, so that hasn’t helped. The main concern is the waiting and not knowing if it’s healing correctly – e.g. Am I wearing the sling correctly to allow it to heal? I don’t know, and just don’t have time to go back to the (public) hospital to wait and find out (I was there for 5+hours on the day of the accident).
    Like you, I’m also hugely disappointed about losing fitness and form that I worked hard for a year to develop. (I was out training for a 100mile sportive when I had the accident). I’m hoping all is well and again, your article is really reassuring and so appreciated by me – thank you.

  44. i thought it was great but my collar bone still hurts so i think i might get it checked out today at the hospital it was great reading this but i need to go to the hospital (again) wen i was 5 i broke the same collar bone by falling out of a tree and this time i got tripped up and landed on my collar bone funny but gtg thank you for helping bye

  45. Per says:

    Great reading this blog and other people’s experience.
    I am now 5 weeks post a road cycle crash and a broken right collar bone. Also had the added treat of some ligament damage in my left hand, so one hand in a cast and the other arm in a sling – not that easy to manage to be honest.
    Like some I have noticed there is quite a big difference in the misalignment of the bones between laying back and standing up. Not sure if that means the bones still move or maybe it’s just my perception and the way the surrounding tissue moves. I saw the consultant a week ago and he told me it it was healing fine and in a good position – it just doesn’t feel or look that way! I was also to to start losing the sling and get the arm moving again.
    I can already see a big difference in the movement range, but swinging my arm like I’m supposed to is rather sore! I expected arm and elbow to be stiff and taking a while to regain movement, but the break itself is where it really hurts. Hoping to get rid of sling and cast in a week’s time. Physio awaits afterwards.
    I’m surprised of how long things take to improve. Tbh I expected to be back on the bike after 3-4 weeks, but that will be a quite a while still by the look of things. Maybe it’s an age thing……

  46. Kayne says:

    Hi all, great forum. I am 8 weeks in with broken clavicle. From the x rays we estimate it is a 2cm shortening. After 5 consults with both private and public specialists, I decided to give it sometime and see what happens without surgery as I had low pain and was coping quite well without a sling.. (I do have a high pain tolerance). At 7 weeks the xray showed slight callus. But still quite a distance between the break. I currently have little to no pain, have not worn a sling for last 5 weeks and have quite a bit of movement. It quite strange to be honest given the look of the xray. I limit my movements and don’t lift anything heavy. Some very hard decisions to make along the way and who really knows if they are the right ones. But I am always very optimistic and positive in life. So fingers are crossed that it joins at some point and I continue without pain. Will keep you all updated..

  47. Mat says:

    What a classic blog… I keep picturing all these one arm typers beavering away at all hours of the day and night. And the lengths of some posts, epic (nice work). Clavicles unite…

    I am 5 days into a mid 1/3 left clavicle fracture (looks like a poorly erected tent) from a footy tackle, in a friendly no less sorry not a MTB). This is the third time I have broken this bone (age 12, 18 and now 50). I remember it hurting like hell when I was younger but in both cases it healed super quick (3-4 weeks). I’m not so sure this will be the case this time, even though the pain is not too bad if I remain still but I am going to remain positive. I see a specialist next Tuesday, 10 days after the break and it seems common in Australia that pinning is recommended for my age. Good to read everyones pros and cons about surgery. It obviously has merit in some cases but truth be told I would prefer it heal itself. So what I am learning/remembering is:
    * Stay positive
    * Ask tonnes of questions
    * Keep moving
    * Ice has been been really effective in managing pain and reducing the need for painkillers (although the bone on bone thing when I walk is extremely unpleasant)
    * The AFH is a normal if not itchy affair.

    My main anxiety is around recovery times. I have been told 6-12 weeks (arrrggh). Trying to maintain a semblance of fitness is really important as well as keeping my job which involves driving a manual.

    I will provide team clavicle an update after the specialist.

  48. Matt Cole says:

    Great information and insight shared here. My clavicle was shattered by the seat belt in a car accident. In top form at date of accident. Doctors have advised allowing the body to self heal.

    Perhaps the most challenging element (asides the pain) is the time frame – with x-rays at the outset, week 4 and week 8 all the signs are promising for full recovery.

    Essential to keep the arm and shoulder immobile for the first 4-5 weeks – using a sling is essential.

    Precise patterns clearly vary with specific injury – in general though weeks 1-4 settling, weeks 5-8 body forms support structure and range of movement returns. The forecast weeks 8-12+ recovery to near normal function.

    Best of luck in recovery – great sleep, high protein and high vit-C diet works well. Static bike after week 5 is the only exercise found that allows fitness to be partially maintained.

  49. debbie backhouse says:

    My son is 14 broke his collarbone and surgeon opted for surgery so has plate and 9 screws, surgery went well and pain lessening after a week. My concern is will he be able to play tennis again as he plays tournaments etc. Surgeon said he would but I am scared he won’t? Thank you

  50. Mat says:

    Hi Mat again (Previous post 31 August 2016). So since the last post I had an unfortunate incident at night where I must have raised my arm above my shoulder during my sleep. The pain was over the top and I ended up in hospital the next day on some pretty strong drugs. Huge tip, sleep with your sling ON. I am week 4 tomorrow and since this unfortunate incident have slept with the sling which has dramatically helped reduce movement (and hence pain). Anyway I saw the orthopaedic surgeon who recommended not proceeding with surgery. While he said that the tenting nature of the break meant I was always going to have a bumpy looking clavicle it was a good candidate for mending on its own. I’m not concerned about any physical deformity, rather I want to make sure my range of motion is reinstated. I’m still in a sling and plan to remain in one for another 10 days (at least) and then jump into some physiotherapy. I know I have lost a lot of fitness and tone but I’m committed to working on getting this back. I think the mental side of things is the biggest challenge after the more intense painful first few weeks.

    Time heals everything (doesn’t it?). M

  51. Rich Fischer says:

    I’m glad to read everyone’s experiences but not wishing this on anyone. It’s truly miserable (as everyone here has rightly noted). I felt completely alone with this until thankfully finding this discussion forum.

    I’m 64 in the Chicago suburbs and often go on long fine-packed gravel and dirt path rides with my cross bike in the summers. I hit a rut on the side of the path at good speed and the tip of my right shoulder took the entire weight of my fall to the ground. Immediate sharp shoulder pain and I could feel bone trying to protrude through. (Funny thing is immediately examined my bike to see if it was ok. How silly and ridiculous.)

    Emergency room x-rays showed clavicle broken in 2 places with a large seperate shard floating around. ER doctor said all bone pieces should come together by themselves by just wearing a sling, which was then fitted on me. He said you’re lucky no dislocated shoulder, which is far worse. Then instructed to see an orthopedic surgeon. That’s tomorrow (5 days later).

    The pain and sleeping is the worst. If laying down, only on the back. Getting up in the morning is truly miserably painful. I was given Ibuprofen for swelling and Hydrocodone for pain. It helps but makes me very dizzy. I’m not crazy about surgery, but if it’s better and faster healing as described by many here, then I’m resigned to it.

    I’m wondering for those cyclists like me who had this unfortunate injury, are you planning to return full force to biking after recovery? Or are you skittish about the prospects of a repeat incident? I admit I’ve gone from an overconfident cyclist to a skittish one, if ever at all.

  52. James says:

    I broke my collarbone about 6 weeks ago and had surgery to repair it. I found this article really helpful so thank you for taking the time to put it all together.

  53. Andy Pryer-Smith says:

    I first broke my collarbone 30+ years ago jumping over a two foot wall which turned out to be about six feet on the other side. A few weeks of my mother wrapping me in a figure of eight bandage and I was fine. Well I say fine it was for the most part but push on the right spot and that broken bone burning pain would be there even after all that time.

    Fast forward quite a few years and it’s December 2013 a rather exuberant decent down a Welsh mountain on my bike left me with, broken ribs, wrist, a rather large hole where my hamstring should have been (I was brought to a halt by a pointy rock) and a broken collar bone. Strava tells me that I went from 39.1mph to zero, the road bringing you to a sudden stop is not the most gentle way. (The bike was ok for those wondering)

    Despite all the injuries I can honestly say that it was my collar bone that gave me the most grief. The x-ray showed it was lined up perfectly so the only surgery involved was repairing a rather large hole in my leg. Two days later and off home in a sling for the collar bone plaster for the wrist and staples in the leg. The pain in my collar bone was the only thing that bothered me, move in the wrong way and it felt like it had popped out of place, poking up under the skin. It was then a case of lying on the bed and trying to relax and push gently on my shoulder until it felt like it was back in place and the pain lessened, sometimes this was the procedure several times a day. I’m sure the figure of eight bandage I had as a kid would have prevented this.

    Anyway I eventually ‘healed’ apart from the fact that I had been left with a golf ball on my shoulder and a collar bone that looked like it was at a 45 degree angle. I can honestly say that I was in discomfort daily from then on with occasional shots of pain, I couldn’t lie on my left side. I used to workout with weights four days a week but even a single press-up caused pain. Over the next couple of years I lost about two stone of muscle, on the plus side the climbing ability on my bike has improved no end 🙂

    Anyway I got fed up with the pain and my wife got fed up with the moaning “well go and see the doctor then” was the repeated advice. I saw my GP got referred for an x-ray the result of which was that even after two and half years it was still broken.

    To cut a long story short as I know I’m rambling I was referred to a shoulder specialist, MRI scan confirmed a non-union, he recommended surgery, plate, screws and a bone graft, with the ‘reassuring’ words “yours is a tricky one”!

    Well it’s now been two weeks since I had the operation and for those wondering my advice would be if you have the option have the surgery. Ok I’m in a sling for the next six weeks at least, off work again and no cycling (that hurt the most) but the whole thing feels so much better than what I have experienced previously.

    Already my clavicle looks straight, I’m going to have a cracking scar but my not so little golf ball friend has gone. I have lost feeling in the skin around the area all being numb but physio says I should get most of the feeling back in time.

    Phyisio is going well although currently limited to just neck stretches to avoid any shoulder movement, another four weeks of this apparently before any thoughts about moving my shoulder.

    It’s not been pain free but then surgery isn’t, although it’s still early days I’m very optimistic about a good result and I have discovered my ability to type one handed.

    • Rich Fischer says:

      Interesting experience and glad surgery finally joined and corrected your collar bone.

      I’m in a somewhat similar situation (posted my story earlier). Miy separation was about 2cm or so per X-ray at the time of the crash. Fast forward now 3 weeks since, my orthopedic doctor firmly does not recommend surgery, despite that I pushed for it. He says this should join and to see him in another 4 weeks for x-rays and view any progress.

      The thinking is that muscle and tendon must be cut in order to reach the bone to attach plates and screws. This cuts off the blood supply that helps successful union and healing to occur. As a result, it can take quite a bit longer to recover following surgery. So in my case, I have to see yet.

      But in your case where union did not occur, then surgery was most definitely the best course. I’m sure once you recover you’ll feel much more confident with any physical activity, exercise, and painless movement.

  54. Sandra says:

    I’m glad I found this forum, four weeks on from breaking my right clavicle after a fall its reassuring to hear of so many similar experiences. I can relate to the seemingly random pain that wakes me up, constantly adjusting pillows and the horrible feeling of the bones rubbing together. My break is overlapping by 2cm and I have been told that they wont join up. I am thinking of going for the op but I have been told it is not without problems. Apart from the op itself the consultants said The plate could stick out as the skin is thin over the bone, the plate could get caught on things and might have to be removed. Has anyone had experience of a non union break healing naturally? Does it cause problems. Or has anyone had problems after the op? Sorry for all the questions but I seem to have more bone sticking out over the last 2 days and I’m thinking about having the op.

    • Rich Fischer says:

      My break was separated by about 2cm also with bone pushing up through the skin. I went to 2 orthopedic doctors all very reputable, and they advised agaianst surgery even though I pushed for it.

      My last and most trusted doctor said they’ll eventually connect and the bump will diminish. He also said natural healing with such a bump is preferable over a plate, which has its own potential complications.

      Well, it’s a bit over 4 weeks now and I can feel bone connection and just a little pain left now. I’m scheduled for x-rays in 2 weeks to assess progress.

      But these situations are tough calls for sure, and the recommendation of the doctor is the best way to go.


    hi everyone, good to read every ones story,
    i broke my collarbone end of june , horse riding , i was jumping and my horse fell he rolled over and i went out the side door, full impact on right shoulder, could of been worst , he could of crushed me, all 600lb s of him but stopped right next to me bless him, i was more worried about him ,
    ambulance came ,off to a/e they were great , went home in a sling with a broken collarbone , week later went to fracture clinic, bearing in mind im self employed run a busy convenience store on a caravan park, went to work the next day as no choice shop needs to be open, saw consultant and said it needs to be operated on, so shocked i said no i dont want one thanks , he said he would talk to surgeon but he thinks he would agree, as my break was at the end near the shoulder and the ends didnt meet,[ cant remember all these long words they use !!] so there was no chance of it mending and i would have to come in sooner or later, i went home in shock, an hour later surgeon phoned me and wanted me in the next day,but he said i needed a hook plate as there is not enough bone to plate it with, so it is hooked on to another bone cant remember name , pulled my shoulder back up , as it had dropped 2 inches, and mended the bone, said i couldnt work which , i said your having a laugh, im self employed, i promised i would have 2 weeks off until the 16 staples came out, then ive worked 7 days aweek 10/12 hours aday with my sling in toe! serving customers , stacking shelfs one handed , which ok i coped with, , it was hard , drained me , worse of it was i couldnt ride , and still cant untill i have this rotton clamp removed , cant lift anything, due to if i fall or lift to much i could break the bone its hooked on too, after reading matts blog and re reading it again , he couldnt of explained it better, but what was so true is i ve lost my spark, no interest in anything , put a stone on , unfit, after riding 6 days aweek to nothing, is the one thats hit me , very down and becoming very tearfull, hook plate can only stay in 4 too 6 months, and im begging him to take it out soon, as ive had cough virus since july, had chest x-ray and bloods which are all fine , immune sytum is low, belivre me im on every vitamin going, !! would like to hear if anyone has had the hook plate in and how it went , as there is not alot of info on it, your right you dont know what to do for the best as to when you have over done it , good pain , bad pain, etc , if you got to the end of this , thank you for reading , i feel better now!! gillian

  56. Rich Fischer says:

    That’s a tough situation there, Gillian. I didn’t get a plate but I’m also interested in those who did and how it went. I agree the pain is awful, and some days it’s really miserable. Trying to sleep is the worst part, even on your back which is the only way, it can be painful.

    You have to keep the arm side in the sling with little or no movement, as the doctors all advise. I’m sure your break will eventually heal, but it requires a lot of patience. There were days and nights when I keep replaying in my mind those stupid few seconds on the bike path with my stupid turn that caused me to crash. But you have to move on and accept it as part of life.

    Good luck. Let us know of your progress here if you can.

  57. Dave says:

    I was knocked off my bike on October 25, 2016 by a van and crushed between vehicle and a road sign. Thought I’d broken my back at first and the pain was excruciating. Spent a night in high dependency unit and a week on a ward with shattered collarbone, broken scapula and seven broken ribs. Saw specialist after a fortnight who said he could not operate on CB because injury was so severe there was nothing to pin or screw too. He suggested not to operate on scapula which was broken all along and fragmented. A real mess. Had to sleep in a chair for a month and pain still intense after five weeks. Tried to come off painkillers but went back on after a couple of days! In a sling until I return on December 19 but making very slow progress although can just about manage some sleep in a bed on my side – for an hour or two anyway! I’m due to ride Raid Alpine from Geneva to Nice in June but I’m not too optimistic judging from my “recovery” so far. Wondered if anyone else had suffered similar injuries and could advise on possible comeback ? I’m also a keen runner so reckon I will be pounding the streets before riding up mountains.

  58. Daniel Soliday says:

    I race BMX haven’t really been fond of MTB really but i broke my collarbone a week ago surprisingly it wasn’t even BMX. I went out to get food on my 50cc scooter and on the way back to my apartment I failed to see a red light and by the time I saw it i was 15 feet from the light doing about 40mph hit both brakes I lost control the scooter hit the ground broke my thumb and collarbone. It was really late so there wasn’t much of anybody out but I was lucky that one car was nearby the driver helped me pick up the pieces of scooter and I didn’t feel any pain at first so I told him I was fine and I picked up my scooter and rode it for about half a mile and then the set in. I do need surgery on my thumb but my collarbone was pretty lined up. But out of the two injuries my thumb definitely hurts worse. The collarbone bad but once it was in the sling I was fine. And Matt trust me if you are in constant fear of being hurt again you won’t move forward your riding. You just have to say a prayer take a deep breath and go for it.

  59. Backpack_dude says:

    Just broke mine yesterday, riding my MTB at the skate park, nailed an off-axis, connecting quarter pipe jump thingy a handful of times in a row. The last jump of the day (obv the last LOL) I swung my rear tire out a bit too far, and my front wheel washed out hard, throwing me OTB and 100% on my shoulder. Being 32 years old with a list of injuries longer then my Christmas wish list, I knew something was def wrong. Things are cooler today, pain isn’t as bad as yesterday, and I’m going to learn to edit videos to chase away this depression, I was feeling REAL down last night, don’t let that happen gotta stay occupied. Do SOMETHING! Good article, and I can relate to an abscessed tooth, I’ve never had pain like that in my life, I also had to go a weekend with the tooth of fire.

  60. Lizzie says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks so much for writing about this, it was so relevant and reassuring. Yes, like many of us mine is another broken clavicle due to a mountain biking stack, why is it that all of the fun things like to wreck us? I swear it is the most uncomfortable pain in the butt of a broken bone I have ever had. Your description of the bone vs. bone grinding so apt. I don’t know how many times I nearly threw up initially. Mine was still partially in alignment thankfully, however having a big illustration contract that I couldn’t blow, I had to get back to work painting after a week. Because of this I think I was a little blase about the rules, mind you my Dr kind of knows me well enough that I am not too good with those things anyways so I wasn’t given too much advice. I could only tolerate the sling on for a week as it seemed to cause even more pain and spasms especially after going out for a walk, so I was a little naughty and stopped wearing it. There was never any issue of me not exercising as like you said, a kind of depression does seep in if you let it. Initially it seemed like it was healing really well, because I wasn’t restricting it and carefully using the pain as my guide. There was the occasional excruciating movement or sleeping with it in an odd position. After 6 weeks I even bit the bullet and was back on my bike for a sanity ride . . . on the family trails I have to admit which my physio said it was OK as long as I didn’t crash. 8 – 9 weeks on, I am still having issues with random cramps and nerve pains. Has anyone else experienced similar if so when did they die down for you? I feel like the healing has kind of plateaued. My Dr and physio said these things take time but we all know how frustrating that answer can be 😀
    Matt, regarding riding. The first one back you probably won’t enjoy . . . it was when I had inklings of my mojo being on the second one, I realized I had been packing myself on the first! Each ride has been getting better with confidence and more enjoable if anything. You can totally get there!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Lizzie, hope your collarbone continues to mend. Yes, it can take a lot of time sadly.

      My original article was written in 2008 and it wasn’t long before I got my mojo back; there’s no substitute to just riding really so I hope others can take that from your comments. However, 12 days ago I broke the same collarbone again…

      I still don’t recommend it! This time round it’s a different experience, it feels like it’s mending well so far but I do worry that the collarbone has been shortened further which may cause shoulder and nerve pain and clicking. We’ll have to see. So far I’ve kept the elbow moving but it shows that every break is quite unique in it’s outcomes. I love reading about everyone’s experiences and hope it has helped people to know they are most definitely not alone.

    • Kylie says:

      Hi!!! I only wore my sling for a week too because I agree it gave me more pain and jostling in my shoulder/collarbone.
      Did yours still heal ok? What kind of workouts did you do?
      Trying to keep my sanity over here and also not delay healing so I can get back to running soon

  61. Related: Lightning does strike twice - another broken collarbone | Lifestyle, Mutterings | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  62. Craig says:

    O dear. I broke mine last night after a kamikaze overtake by my friend went wrong. I’ve been up all night and down at minor injuries most of today and at the hospital tomorrow. So I’m already depressed by the 8-12 week scenario! Hey ho. At least it’ll be warm when I get back out on the bike.

    • Matt says:

      Sorry to hear that Craig. If it’s any consolation, the first few days are the worst.

      Ironically, I’ve just broken my collarbone again after 9 years! It’s still miserable but my experience this time has been quite different – after three weeks, I’m able to move my arm and am well on the way to mending. It’s surprised me how different it was to my first time, so fingers crossed it works out well for you.

  63. David says:

    great reads! broke mine, I think about 4 weeks ago.. 2.3cm seperation/overlap… right away doc said I needed surgery.. Plate and screws…. Surgery went great, and pretty cool, ive had surgery before, I just think it’s neat.. get knocked out and wake up like nothing happened(sorta).. been in a sling.. Sleeping sucks, took pain meds for tge first couple weeks and don’t anymore.. I have 2 more weeks in the sling, but I’ve taken it off every once in a while and moved my arm around a bit.. not much pain, just aches a little sometimes… broke mine snowboarding, came off a rail funny and went right to my shoulder and SNAP, I thought I hit my head at first, but that was only the sound of my collarbone snapping. 🙁 hoping I heal quick, thankfully I have winters off for work but an due back in about a month..

    • Matt says:

      Hope you’re healing well David. It’s one of those injuries you are unlikely to die from but at the same time very disabling while it heals and it can be quite miserable.

      I’ve found – having broken mine for the second time recently after this original article of 9 years ago – that keeping the arm moving if possible appears to help but it really seems to depends on the injury. It feels quite a different experience this time to the first time.

  64. Paul says:

    have been reading all comments – very informative. Highsided bike on wet diesel patch pulling off my drive ( embarassment factor massive ) and hit shoulder/back quite hard. Did not know i had broken anything as i managed to pick up bike and push it back into my garage where i stripped off damaged footrest / fairing panel and cracked screen. I had full movement of my arm with no pain ( prob due to swelling ) so changed out of leathers and opened bottle of wine.
    Next day after a night of shoulder clicking / scraping i went to A&E and had an x-ray carried out – not seen results yet but have appointment and 2nd x-ray in 12 days. Doctor confirmed it was broken – pretty obvious i thought with bone visibly moving – and put me in a cloth type sling.
    As i had no pain and full movement albeit slightly uncomfortable / nauseating when bone on bone, and being self employed i went to work on monday ( broke it saturday ) and managed driving and finished job. I find like another person commented that i can keep bone together better without sling. After reading comments i have decided just to work half days and then 2-3 hours stationary position and see what results are in 9 days time when i get 2nd x-ray. This may sound crazy and impair healing but i believe your body will let you know and i feel fine doing it.
    I will let you know after x-ray.

  65. Matt says:

    Another Matt here!
    Broke my collarbone 18 days ago BMX racing.
    Opted to heal naturally, been out of sling since about day 7, it just felt better resting by my side than being strapped up.
    Doc seems to think it’ll heal on its own but second doc in same practice suggested surgery (but he always suggests surgery).
    First week, brutal. No sleep, uncomfortable pain, etc… Didn’t take any pain meds as they inhibit bone growth. Plus, you broke a bone, you’re body is healing, there’s going to be some pain people! Not judging, I just want to be able to gauge things naturally w/o having pain masked artificially.
    I’m a self-employed contractor so down time isn’t very fun and given the physical nature of my job I’m not about to rush things, but question for everybody…
    Anybody feel like they had MORE pain/discomfort two and a half weeks in than they did on week one? Today was just brutal! Neck pain, muscle pain, more feeling of tightness and pulling around the break area… Thought things were supposed to be progressively getting better, not two steps back!

    Matty, bummer on the re-break…my worst nightmare. How’s progress going 4 months in?

    • Matt says:

      Hey Matt, collarbone has healed really well thanks and possibly quicker than the first time – I tried fewer meds this time and it did seem to help, or maybe my body has just sussed what to do. The shoulder still clicks, just in a different way this time… 🙂

      The pain you describe after a couple of weeks was also something I recognise. I think (my own theory) it’s the muscles atrophying through lack of use and the tendons tightening from lack of movement. The elbow apparently can get quite ‘sticky’ from this. For me it stopped after a while, then once the collarbone is OK it’s a case of building things back up. General movement really helps, no need for weights until you are properly mended – after six/seven weeks I was told to just do what felt comfortable which for me was light weight and concentrating on the full range of movement. Hopefully your doc will guide you.

      Hope that helps and good luck with the mend.

    • Jill says:

      Hi Matt,

      I’m 11 days in and am finding that the pain is ramping up again. I stopped using my sling 4 days ago, so I hope that’s not the reason why. Thanks for your post as it makes me think perhaps it’s just part of the healing process.


  66. Scott says:

    Reading this 9 weeks into a slow recovery. Thanks for the insights.
    My collarbone is in three bits and I also have three ribs busted.
    After 5 weeks x-ray showed no sign of new bone. Depressing as hell that was.
    Next x-ray is 5 weeks away and I hope the skin and muscle tension and lump I’m begining to feel is a good sign.
    It’s dropped about 2 cm and my arm feels odd against my torso.
    It’s gonna be a long summer….

  67. Candy Kemp says:

    Lots of posts here. I broke my collarbone three different time, in 1976 at 3 years old (I’m told since I don’t remember), in 1989 at 16 yearso old, fell off a jungle gym when another kid tickled me while I was hanging upside down, and in 1997 at 24 riding a bicycle downhill. I know initially the accidents hurt but it didn’t hurt after a few minutes until reaching the ER and the Dr pushed the bones back into place. I actually think the breaks were close to one another as I only have one lump now and I remember the armpit from he’ll from the braces Too!
    Now 20 years later I still occasionally wake up with pain there, especially right around the time it rains or the weather change, got to love it when the seasons change!
    People who’ve never broken a bone just don’t get how painful it can get at these times.
    My doctor says to lose weight, I’m 50 pounds overweight and this will “fix” it, problem is 10 years ago before I started gaining weight and especially this last year since I’ve quit smoking and gained 30 lbs, the pain was still there. Told him this he said probably arthritis. But I read a post about how many muscles there are in the area and as a nursing student I know this as well, it seems more likely that the muscles attached to the bone might be causing the bone to hurt?

  68. Candy Kemp says:

    Not to say the doctor’s wrong in saying I need to lose weight but easier said than done. It is very hard, something I realize now after 30 years of being skinny. A lot easy to never get fat than to go from fat to skinny again!
    I’m just relieved I nevery needed surgery on my collarbone. I’ve heard it can cause permanent numbness or chronic pain or a combination of both.
    I’ll take intermittent pain onice in a while, never more than 1-3x a month over constant pain!

  69. Candy Kemp says:

    Stupid auto-correct, sorry for all the typos

  70. Alyson Doyle says:

    Hi Matt & everyone on this page. I fell downstairs last Tuesday, rushing to aqua aerobics and broke my left collar bone. I’ve never broken a bone before or even been an in-patient for anything and I’m 63! I was supposed to be going yo Florida in five weeks worth my best friends and their children/grandchildren to go the the Parks. I spent a day in A&E ‘cos they thought I had a broken neck, then saw the consultant in the fracture clinic next day. I was so shocked when he said about three months to heal and I couldn’t go on any rides I never asked anything else. He just asked the nurse to put a sling on and said he’d see me in four weeks, so I know nothing!
    I’m in lots of pain and find if I take my sling off and straighten my arm it feels better but I don’t know if this means it’ll heal incorrectly. When I put the sling on I also get pain down the back of my arm and in my back below my shoulder. When I press the collar bone with the flat on my hand it crunches and I’m so frightened of it healing wrongly if I don’t keep the sling on.
    I live alone but have family nearby, but don’t want to trouble people. Your page has helped seeing what others have dealt with and I’d be grateful for any pointers due to my fears.
    Thank you

    • Matt says:

      Sorry to hear about your injury Alyson, it never ceases to surprise me the steady stream of people that come to this page with their own tales of pain and misfortune. As much as it is traumatising at this time, I’m always thankful that nothing worse happened and that people can heal from these things.

      Having spent a week in a sling, it’s possible that your muscles are stiffening up or in tension from having to hold yourself differently to normal. I’m not medically trained – so I’m not going to give any advice – but in my experience that was what happened with me and gentle movement from time to time helped so long as the bone was not causing pain. Gently does it.

      I’ve actually broken my collarbone twice, the first time took longer to heal than the second for no obvious reason so each injury is different, but your doctor may have said it might take a while in part due to your having gained plenty of life experience (congratulations by the way on reaching 63 without breaking anything)!

      Good luck with the mend, there will be plenty of days of frustration but it does get better. I hope you get to Florida, but I would keep away from the rollercoasters!

      • Alyson Doyle says:

        Thank you Matt. Up again at 4.30am! Wouldn’t be too bad if it was summer and daylight! As you say be thankful. I’ve been watching the Invictus Games and I keep thinking stop moaning Alyson, this is nothing compared to what some people have to cope with. Keeping the sling off when I can as the pain’s much worse with it on.

  71. Heather says:

    Well I did my left one for the third time(in eight years) 10 days ago.First time was skiing and involved the middle third.Two years later otb mtb and a comminuted(several bits) fracture of the distal(outside third) and this time otb after mistiming a big drop(didnt push the bike far enough out,over rotated and came down nose heavy and heavy otb).This was on a d/h bike and I was wearing a neck brace which is probably what broke my clavicle but may have saved me from something much worse.I see my specialist tomorrow and will see what he has to say as to whether we treat conservatively or go with surgery.Both prior times I had conservative treatment and gained full use back and I’m kind of hoping we go the same way if thats the best route.

  72. Mary says:

    Hi, all:

    Thanks everyone for commiserating and encouraging!

    I’m getting surgery (contoured plate + screws) tomorrow on a significantly displaced break on the near-shoulder side. There’s also a non-displaced break somewhere else. I’m uninsured so I’m getting surgery almost 20 days after the break but I’ve read that shouldn’t affect outcome much if at all. FYI for people struggling with financing surgery, I’m in NYC which apparently has a strong “city hospital” system so I’m only being charged 2K for the surgery and anesthetic, and they let me put half of it on a payment plan. I’m a contract employee and just started my job three days after my injury (excrutiating beyond words; lots of sneaking off to cry in the bathroom; was not given painkillers until day 7 because Urgent Care sucked).

    I feel less alone hearing from others, especially the depression that accompanies this very frustrating injury.

    I’ll report back if anyone wants to know more about the plate+screw surgery.

    Good luck and take care!

  73. David Tomlinson says:

    Seems like a very honest set of thoughts. Of course age may effect things (my accident coincided with my 67th birthday so haven’t got the luxury to leave recovery too long). Then again, the accident was as a result of a black out of cause as yet unknown. And what else apart from biking can’t you do? For me: swimming (can’t imagine wearing a sling whilst trying do do a few lanes); sailing (no way will I be wanting to lean over hanging on to the sail); flying (probably get grounded after a black out); driving? (Don’t even go there). So what to do? Well it was my left collarbone so at least I can lift a pint!

  74. Alyson Doyle says:

    Injury update:
    Just got back from the hospital four weeks after fall. After X-Ray told the break is fluffy/ sticky! In medical terms it’s starting to heal with calluses. It’s not fully mended and may take another 8-10 weeks to do so!
    Got to keep the sling on and ensure no pressure on collarbone. Apparently even breathing moves it, but they advised me not to stop that ??
    Seeing me in another four weeks – fed up ☹️
    No gym, Nordic walking, aqua aerobics or driving ?
    In addition David Tomlinson he told me not to drink as alcohol impairs fracture repair!!
    Anyone else been told this? Have to admit I do need my glass of red wine. It’s the only thing I can look forward to ?

    • Matt says:

      I can sense your frustration Alison! On the upside, healing is healing even if it’s slow. I’ve found once the bones have bridged across it starts to improve despite being fragile.

      I think I have heard the no alcohol thing, but have never completely abstained myself – life’s too short, but it makes sense not to overload the system.

      Best wishes, Matt

      • Alyson Doyle says:

        Thanks Matt. Definitely having my glass of red wine with dinner… just not partying! Feeling much better pain wise although I still have random periods of severe pain. It’s the lack of exercise I miss as I did it 6 days a week. Currently walking as much as I can, but miss the gym etc. Having read all the posts I feel quite fortunate. It is good to be able to chat to each other though. Love Alyson.

    • Christine Sellick says:

      I broke my clavicle and ribs slipping downstairs. I was told that I shouldn’t smoke (I don’t), vape (never have), drink alcohol (luckily I don’t do this either due to just not liking it). Told to make sure I ate healthily – I’m sure doctor was looking at me thinking “she could do with losing some weight”. I have also been told by a nurse that anti inflamatory gel also slows recovery although I had been slapping it on. I have to go back in three weeks when I will have another xray and then decision will be made whether I have op or not. Being a very good patient now as I have no desire for an op. Seeing a physio tomorrow about my ankle (also injured in fall) and will ask for details about my shoulder as initially given exercises for clavicle that made my ribs scream! Now told not to do them. Hopefully I will get some information tomorrow.

  75. Jenny Leech says:

    Broke my right collar bone in Italy in January this year, when another skier stopped in front of me, and I went down on my shoulder. The pain was unbelievable, but I was quickly taken to the local doctor who did x rays and said it didn’t need surgery. I was fitted with a figure of eight brace and told to keep it on for 4 weeks (day and night). My husband was told to tighten it up each day but this proved impossible due to chaffing in the armpits. Back home, the Dr. at the fracture clinic made me take it off and put my arm in a sling. This was unbearably painful and gave no support at all to the shoulder. I put the figure of eight back on and kept it on, but I think the bone had moved out of line because I now have a huge lump. I got physio after 4 weeks and got movement back in the shoulder, but the phisio said it would be 12 months before it fully healed. Now 9 months later, the shoulder still aches even lying in bed, and I’m wondering if I should ask the GP to send me for another x ray. I am 67 so I suppose your body takes longer to recover. Anyone had a similar experience?

  76. Bob Graham says:

    Beginning week 8 of recuperation. OTB at slow speed, broke left collar bone, severe bruising of ribs, dent in left side of head (no helmet). Abandoned sling after 3 weeks and got too ambitious so beware of frustration resulting in bad decisions.
    12 weeks is the absolute minimum before any heavy lifting.
    I’m relieved to read that many of you are suffering from depression, in so much as it means it’s not just me. I’m making slow progress , possibly due to my age (75) and therefore poorer healing. I have found that Hydrotherapy(under supervision) is really beneficial, i.e., exercising without weight bearing. My main sport is kitesurfing and I am missing some seriously good days, but it is going to be several months before I will be venturing out on the water.

    Great blog by the way, be patient folks we will get there!!

  77. Lucia says:

    In a car accident a few days before thanksgiving 2017, I broke my left clavicle. I am in my late forties and before the accident I was fairly active. After the accident, I had the horrible pain with movement and you could see the clavicle bones moving when I talked. I had sleepless nights, constipation, etc. I saw an orthopedic doctor about two weeks after the accident, but I did not like his recommendation. By the time I went for a second medical opinion, about week 3 after breaking my left clavicle, my left shoulder was visibly shorter than my right and slightly droopy plus I had two bumps. My broken collarbone X-ray looked a lot like the one pictured in the first comment. The 2nd doctor recommended surgery, but I had a cold that turned into bronchitis so surgery had to be delayed by another week. The coughing with a broken collarbone was super painful. I had surgery six days short of a month after my injury. Surgery went well. I had a pain block that lasted about 24 hours after surgery so I could not feel my arm, and that was for the best. The pain killers and icing the area helped a lot. Ate lots of prunes and coffee to manage constipation from the pain meds. I wore my sling for the first three weeks after surgery. Had help to bathe and to get dressed for the first 2 weeks. By 4 days after surgery I was off the strong meds and using Tylenol. Started doctor recommended minor exercises the day after surgery. My scar looks more like a scratch than a scar. I get better every day meaning more mobility and more feeling. I am still sleeping in a recliner. I am just 2 days shy of 4 weeks post surgery. I have been doing all the physiotherapy recommended and I ice every day. I have not been cleared to drive, but I am hopeful may be in two weeks. The posts were very helpful to me so I hope my post will help others too.

  78. David says:

    1st post almost 3weeks in.

    I just want to leave these post to help anyone decide on what action to take and give as much info as possible so you can make an informed decision on what treatment to take. It’s just another broken collar bone to anyone else but to us it could be life changing.

    I don’t normally comment or post on blogs but I’ve found this site and everyone’s post really helpful so I’d like to share my story.
    I broke my left clavicle on 06/01/18 playing sat league football. I got myself straight to A&E, had the X-Ray to be told by the nurse that it was quite a nasty overlapping break but I’d have to return on Monday because the fracture clinic was closed over the weekend. Off I went with a box of codine & a appointment to see an orthopaedic doctor on Monday @ 3pm.
    I’m a self employed left handed plasterer with a 12week old amazing beautiful daughter who’s just woke & is smiling at me as I write this which thankfully make it a lot easier. Anyway over the weekend I gradually got more anxious about the whole situation, having my wife on maternity, a first year apprentice at work, the usual mortgage, bills etc & the fact that I love everything outdoors & active, the realisation of what could be hit home. Luckily I got my apprentice & work sorted with my old apprentice’s for the next 2months so I just needed to get this bone fixed ASAP.
    So I rolled up to A&E at 7:30am on Monday morning willing to wait for a cancellation or anything which would allow me to see the consultant earlier to be told that the fracture clinic doesn’t open until 2pm. Seeing that I was so keen the receptionist moved my appointment forward to 2. Off home I went to return for my 2pm appointment. Giving my consultant all the information on my personal situation and the fact that the fracture was overlapping over 20mm he recommended surgery because of the risk of a none union and if it did heal the risk of it being shorter & causing long term problems. He squeezed me on a ward stating that if my bum was in a bed I’d be operated on quicker. He booked me in for theatre the next day. The following day my OP was rightfully cancelled due to emergencies taking priority. Weds morning the shoulder specialist surgeon for that day came to see me and said I didn’t need the operation, I tried to explain all personal situations but he just didn’t seem to want to listen or take the time to understand, I asked him if he’d looked at my X-ray? “From that angle” it looks like it should be ok he said and his advice was to go home & return in 3weeks as he walked away asking his ward doctor to book me in for then. From that angle wasn’t good enough for me so I asked for further x-rays hoping for a quick consultation after his day in theatre or in the next few days but the doctor insisted on a 3week appointment. Whilst waiting for the x-ray I rang a local private hospital for a consultation & a 3rd opinion with a shoulder specialist only to be told it was the same surgeon that had just refused to work on me, so I made an appointment with another orthopaedic consultant for the Friday. I hadn’t seen any of the X-rays so far but I’d bought the on cd for £10 so I could save the private consultant time. After the x-ray I returned to my ward and asked if I could go, I was told to wait 5mins so they could send a doctor to discharge me. 2mins later my original consultant came & told me he couldn’t understand why his colleague didn’t operate, he said they had both gone over my x-rays on Monday & agreed the best route was theatre. He was really apologetic & said he would do it personally tomorrow. I agreed only because of the reading I’d done over the past few days on the topic. I did point out that his colleague was the shoulder specialist & he a knee specialist but he seemed to have my best interest at heart and his colleague in my opinion did not which seems crazy considering his profession.
    That night I asked my wife to bring a laptop with her during visiting we could look at the x-rays, I’m no expert but the bone was seriously overlapping and considering my profession, age (38)
    & active lifestyle I was confident I was doing the right thing, I’ve considered the risk & understand the possibility of needing a future op to remove the plate and or pins. The following day 5days after the accident I was out of surgery but needed a night in hospital to recover due to feeing rough & vomiting on one occasion due to the anesthetic. The pain before the surgery was really bad at times but I didn’t want to take morphine because of the way it made me feel but the codine, paracetamol & ibuprofens did the job ok most of the time. After surgery the feeling was great straight away I could tell the bone was in place straight away, they had put a plate in there. Before surgery with certain movements I could feel the bone klinking together and moving in the tissue which was a very weird sensation. So far the clavicle area has been fine, a weird numb feeling around the dressing & the odd moment of hyper sensitivity but nothing major. I’ve been asked to keep the sling on for this 2weeks but I’ve been out of it during the days for a week and I was off the pain killers 5days post op. I’ve slept in the sling so not to damage anything whilst asleep. Although I’ve had the sling off I’ve kept the arm in my t-shirt and have kept my shoulder still, I have been moving my hand & arm from the elbow down. From about day 5 post op, day 10 post break my arm has been getting gradually more painful, especially during the evening, in fact last night was the worst to date, I think it’s the lack of movement, I have a dull ache which is sometimes in the tricep, the deltoid, the inner elbow & outside forearm. The actual clavicle area is fine compared to this. I didn’t realise how painful tight ligaments can be, I’m back on the pain killers thanks to it, which I did not want to do. Anyway I’ve got my 2week post op meeting with my consultant today to probably get my staples removed & a post op x-Ray. I’ll keep the post updated. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a speedy recovery and a return to normal working, active life but I’m not going to rush the lifting/physical side of recovery. I think I might get myself some Ibuleve gel this afternoon to try and ease this arm ache. (Sling syndrome) an earlier post said.

  79. David says:

    2nd post 3 weeks in.

    Just had the staples removed 21 in total. Was fine didn’t feel any pain at all. I was told I could leave the sling off permanently now unless I was doing something where it needed support or I felt like a rest.
    I was told to do light arm movements ie. bending over and hanging my arm down and swinging it very slightly, Standing up straight & swinging it gently, lifting it in front of me slightly, stretching my neck off gently etc.
    I’ve just been hanging it and letting it stretch off, wow you can feel it right down the arm & it’s as tight/stiff as and it takes a bit of deep breathing to give it a good stretch. That’s where all the pain as been coming from this week. I’m going to do a bit of research & do as much of this as I can to loosen it off. I’ve been told I can drive in 4weeks taking it up to 6weeks post op/7weeks since the accident. I have another appointment in 6weeks.

  80. David says:

    Here’s a useful link for anyone thinking or has had a ORIF (open reduction and internal fixation) or not.

  81. June says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write your article,fell on the last day of my ski holiday ,chipped end of collar bone and fracture. I got up after the fall and next day made my way home as a passenger driving to uk from austria, thinking just bruised ,went to walk in centre on return and had an x Ray.
    I am in a fig 8 sling and on day 5 awaiting fracture clinic appointment.
    Always skied since 14 aged 60 but I have decided to hang up the boots⛷.not told the family yet. I am a bit tearful at times just fed up and frustrated as normally very active and your so right about the armpits, you don’t realise how hard it is to get out a bath with one arm, won’t try that again. I am moving my wrist and elbow up and down as not had any advice yet just to keep in sling when walking about. Just pleased to hear other people’s comments and encouragement..thank you

  82. David says:

    2nd post 9 weeks post break.
    8weeks since having the plate put in, feels great. I’ve been back on the tools at work for 3 weeks, I was told it was going to be 12weeks but I managed to get back in 6. I’m not lifting anything to heavy with my left arm or skimming large ceilings but I’m back at it earning & feeling good. I was at the gym 3 weeks after the op on the bike & arm stretches etc. The frozen shoulder was a nightmare for 2-3weeks aft the operation but the worst thing was not knowing how long is was going to last or what it was. I just kept doing arm raises & stretches for the 3weeks.
    I had a consultation & X-ray a week ago and it healing at the bottom but still looks broke else where. Fingers crossed for the next X-ray in 4 weeks.
    So far I’m glad I had the surgery.

  83. caryn says:

    so happy i found this blog! such a relief to read about others’ experiences and what i’m thinking/feeling. i’m 10 days out of taking a header over the handlebars of my bike. non-displaced fracture of right mid-third collarbone. i’m 60 years old. very right-handed. didn’t even know i had a left hand until now!
    WAS very active: 90 minutes rowing (sculling) 5 days per week, 90 minutes tennis 5 days per week, 1-2 hours hiking with dogs every day. it all came to a crashing halt with my crash. i’m so lucky to be in one piece other than the break, but so depressed with the lack of activity. i’m in a sling, 24/7 but remove it to stretch out my arm straight a couple of times a day and to shower. the armpit from hell definitely requires attention:)
    got off hydrocodone after one day, as OTC painkillers worked okay. sleepless, crabby and in a fog kind of for the first week.
    feeling more discomfort into this second week, as an earlier post noted and i agree, i attribute to lack of use. doing a lot of squats when needing to bend, and holding right shoulder with left hand in front to minimize movement. wish i could take a short walk round the block but walking too much jars the bone so i get that queasy feeling.
    i haven’t read this in others’ posts, but i have adjusted my diet. i don’t want to pack on the pounds so i’m sticking to greens and lean protein -turkey, some chicken; no bread, no sugar.
    no surgery recommended for now, with next xray appt. in 2 weeks to check if healing. i am having a hard time staying positive in light of the length of time for recovery. your blog is the only reading that has helped since this happened. thanks to everyone who posted & best for quick recovery to anyone dealing with this injury.

  84. Kevin Elias says:

    Done my collar bone 2wks with an otb , glad about your review . Work in the building game and never had time off but just tried to supervise . Driving is awful , especially indicating . As I said it’s been 13 days to the day , was going to return to hospital as it’s got worse over past two days . Really struggling to lift arm unassisted and pain excruciating. And I get the point also about feeling quite down. I’m 50 and going to Ibiza in wks time , love snorkelling so this could be a problem

  85. Paul says:

    You’re blog is on the button.
    MTB crash 6weeks ago left me with 8 rib fractures, collapsed lung and broken collar bone. Had surgery on collar bone 10 days ago to fix a plate.
    Totally bummed, tired, frustrated and bored! On the upside I should be good to go for the summer.

  86. Dawn Boden says:

    I cannot thank you enough! I broke my collar bone three weeks ago! I am 58 and it’s the worst pain ever! The arm pit comment is right on!!! I am feeling depressed and I thought it was because I was at Gardner and I can’t get out to my beautiful flower beds. I was going to physical therapy prior to my injury because I had a frozen shoulder so I had already learned how to do some stretches I’m going to try to do as much as I can to let my bone heal and not be too hard on myself but I have been looking for an article like this one

  87. Jill says:

    Thanks for sharing; it’s a relief to know that I am not alone in this and someone understands. I had a road bike accident 10 days ago, resulting in moderate-severe concussion, broken collarbone, ribs, sprained wrist etc. I am trying not to be too pessimistic regarding recovery, but it certainly feels like I have a long road ahead of me and my body is already losing fitness and the lack of mental/physical stimulus has me bored out of my mind!

    So true about the armpit of doom… lol

  88. Carrie says:

    I broke my collarbone 4 weeks ago due to bike wreck. It was broke in half with several bone fragment floating around so I had to have it plated 3 weeks ago. It was actually broken in 4 places. Before surgery I exercised every day on stationary bike and even aqua jogged in sling one day. After surgery I started going back to the gym after 2 days to ride in the stationary bike for 1-2 hrs. 6 days after surgery my Ortho Doc let me start back easy running but I have to run easy and try not to bounce very much. I was out of the sling after 2 weeks and am using my arm for everyday activities but I’m not allowed to lift my arm above my head or lift over 2 pounds. I’m post op 3 weeks now and swam 500 yards today using only one arm and a pool buoy. I have ran 20 miles so far this week and cycled 70, mostly all indoors. I think getting up and being active is good for you and I’m thankful my Dr allows me to be active. I had first post op X-ray after 2 weeks, everything was in place but there was no bone union yet which is normal. I go back for 2nd follow up X-ray in 3 weeks which is post op 6 weeks, hoping it’s heaking well. I have very little pain, good rom and was off pain meds in just a few days. I don’t feel like I’ve lost any fitness, in fact I’ve been putting in 7-10 hrs a week.

  89. Gillian D says:

    It’s been 16 days since I broke mine, sick of my life but glad to be alive if that makes sense? Great article, very accurate, sneezing and hiccups agony ?

  90. Jane Schroeder says:

    I am 73 and broke my left collarbone two days ago. I am due to go to my sons in a week to look after my 9year old grandson.Is this ok?

  91. Cory B says:

    Thanks so much for this blog and all the comments over the years! I had a distal fracture of my clavicle at the end of March, and in the days afterwards I was worried about my recovery, but couldn’t get any straight information from my doctors. I was 4 weeks away from the start of my summer work, which is shoulder-intensive physical labour, for which I depend on a lot of my income. Since the job hadn’t started and I wasn’t injured at work, I had no financial safety net and was very focused on figuring out a target date to return. But all the doctors said was ‘it usually takes six weeks to recover’, with no qualifications on when I should expect to recover enough to work – one doctor shrugged and said ‘probably’ I could start at 6 weeks, another said ‘ideally you’d have three months’… not helpful.

    I figured ‘hell, lots of people must have dealt with this before’ and after searching and scrolling through google pages I came across this blog, which was a godsend. Having such a variety of testimonials was incredibly helpful and reassuring throughout my recovery. It’s been in the back of my head to outline my own experience for awhile now, but I’m finally getting around to it.

    So I had a distal (outside) fracture, luckily not close enough to the shoulder blade to mess it up too bad, but close enough (I think, from my limited understanding of physiology) to have lots of tissues around to stabilize it. It still hurt a ton, and I had to sleep on my back for probably 4 weeks, even sleeping on my good side hurt too much. I wore a sling 24/7 for the first 2.5 weeks, although I remained active in terms of social commitments and it wasn’t a problem other than asking for a few more rides and trying to only eat foods I could pick up with one hand (I’m left handed and it was my left collarbone so it was hard to eat with a knife and fork). The hardest part was honestly the nasty early spring weather – it was windy and rainy, and I couldn’t really wear a closed jacket. But that was more annoying than anything.

    What actually helped me quite a bit was testing the limits of how much I could move it. I looked for physio info online and mostly found some daunting lists of exercises/movements that I couldn’t really fully understand. But after 2.5 weeks I was driving across the country (I live in Canada, so this is a long long drive), and on the first day I tentatively took my arm out of the sling to hold the steering wheel – and yes, I was definitely worried about having to suddenly swerve, but I figured if I was in that situation then reaggravating the collarbone with sudden movement was the least of my worries. But anyway, on the long straight prairies I had nothing but time, so with my arm outstretched on the steering wheel I tested my range of motion, and realized that most of my arm’s resistance to movement was because it hadn’t been moved, rather than the pain from the break. So once I spent hours very gently testing the limits of my range of motion, I could move more confidently and start to do more things – even putting my arm through the sleeve of a coat and carrying it straight felt great. From there, it was a matter of seeing how I could gently test my limits, or find my own self-made physio exercises. I practiced the motion required for my job every morning, first 25 times, building up to 50, 100, and so on. I was fortunate enough to be close to some commercial hot springs, and that had therapeutic benefit, as well as the benefits of testing my range of motion in water, which had great results. Even something as simple as holding my hand in front of a water jet for 30 seconds to test resistance, or holding a foam pool noodle underwater was just a good way to gently build strength while I was there anyway and had nothing better to do.

    Anyway, all this is to say that what I found most effective was being thoughtful and careful about testing the limits of my range of motion, building physio exercises into my daily routine based on common sense, and trying it out in water while I recovered. That was my experience, hope it may be useful to someone encountering similar issues.

    I ended up missing 11 work days out of 55, returning a few days after the 6 week mark, and when I came back I was able to slowly use my arm more and more, and was back up to speed rather quickly. As a 39 year old who had never broken a bone, it was a learning experience, but it turned out as well as it could have.

  92. DKP says:

    Really interesting blog and comments. Thanks!

    I had a bike accident (cycling into an obscured traffic pole in the dark) on Nov 15th 2019 and got a displaced midshaft collarbone fracture + a few bruises. Clean break in two, but both parts separated by about 1/2 bone width.

    A&E dispensed usual sling painkillers and weary advice.

    Outpatients at 10days just gave me a sick-note and some high-minded verbiage about surgery versus nonsurgery risks and sent me away. I had 12 days off work before returning halftime to work before Christmas.

    I had/have very limited movement and massive muscle fatigue like my left half has always just completed a pentathlon. The “going for a handshake” gesture pulls at some odd muscles on the displaced collarbone and stops awkwardly… this makes driving illegal as I can’t rotate the steering wheel easily and symmetrically. The fracture is generally pain-free but gets sore occasionally and feels like a hot tennis-ball sitting in the middle of my shoulder.

    Outpatients at 7weeks took an xray which looks just as if the fracture had taken place yesterday! Two end bits of bone sitting there with a gap. Was offered more verbiage about not lifting heavy objects or raising arm above head and sent away again, feeling as if I was a nuisance patient.

    Now sitting it out to the 13week outpatient appointment with hopefully some professional physio (as opposed to random websites found online). I’ve been testing my range of motion up until it feels like a no-go.

    I can identify about the low-level depression part… a huge chunk of my quality of life has been taken away. I can’t even commute to work properly and have to rely on taxis. All I can do is draw a smaller circle of expectation around the most important things to me: home and family, friends, food and beer. At least it is winter and not much is going on demanding outdoors vigour. I hope to emerge slowly like a green shoot in Spring with renewed mobility… (or just join a waiting list for surgery)

  93. DKP says:

    If relying on NHS, I can recommend being quite up-front with questions. Write a list. The specialists see fractures everyday and are very blase (they treat the fracture, not the patient), whereas it’s a big deal for you and some nuggets of information (e.g. chance of nonunion with sit-and-wait) can set your mental expectation.

    Chase up appointments with polite phonecalls. I’ve just got my first physio appointment on the phone, despite being a “high-priority” on a waiting list (and not hearing anything for a week)

    • Matt says:

      Hi DKP, thanks for the comments. Sounds like your experience initially was similar to mine – clean break in middle followed by 5+ weeks in a sling and then muscle weakness.

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like you’ve had a lot of bone healing for whatever reason – it could be you’ve not managed to keep the joint ends in close proximity for long enough (i.e. the shoulder is moving around) or it could be something underlying (I’m not a doctor). If the mend is not happening it needs to be investigated, and may well benefit from being pinned.

      Good luck – I hope it gets sorted out soon and stay positive! I am happy to say my mend has been good long-term and based on others’ experiences on this thread, I think a mid break such as we’ve had causes less trouble over time.

  94. Fiona Bjorck says:

    Hi. This was really helpful. I broke my right collarbone 3 weeks ago being flung over handlebars whilst off roading. Bruised ribs, broken collarbone but no concussion thanks to the helmet. I had x Ray but because of lockdown no-one else wants to see me. Fracture clinic phoned and have sent physio exercises which are helpful, but it’s difficult not knowing how it is healing. Hey ho.

    • Matt says:

      Ouch, that’s tough Fiona and pretty scary having to see A&E at this time. No-one’s in a rush to go there at the best of times.

      I’m glad my write-up is helpful to you even in a small way.

      Hope you are on the right path – it’s very difficult to tell and adds to the anxiety. If you can manage a little movement rather than keeping static in the sling I found it was helpful, as the muscle strength does quickly disappear (although it will come back).

      Good luck!

  95. Keith Drury says:

    Hi Matt
    Loved reading your blog.
    Did my Clavicle two weeks ago. Mountain bike down hill about 25mph front wheel went from underneath me. Nearly 55 and first time I have managed to break a bone.( amazed its taken this long )
    Was told at urgent care clinic it would need to be pinned and plated (apparently I made a great job of it) got sent home and told to wait for the phone call. Had the op 12 days after. Now 10 days after the op I can get through the day without pain killers but I’m a restless sleeper and the pain when I move in my sleep is horrendous. But I’m getting there got my first physio in 5 days time. I think the arm pit of doom is a brilliant description.
    Good job I’m not a social person as no one wants to come near me ?
    Still in a sling and it’s amazing how heavy my arm feels when I remove it to put a baggy shirt on.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Keith, thanks for your kind words about the blog. I’m glad my advice and experiences have been useful to people because like you I had no idea really what to expect.

      Fortunately things worked out pretty well in the end and it sounds like you are also on the path to recovery. Get well soon!

  96. Ian says:

    Fascinating read of people’s experiences with a broken clavicle. Now 3 weeks since I came of my road bike. Due to broken clavicle and bruising around the left shoulder / ribs managed to pick up a chest infection. Apparently this is quite common as you tend to breathe shallower and this can cause stale air in the lungs leading to infection requiring anti-biotics. To top it off about 10 days after the initial accident, managed to develop a swollen arm / hand. This was diagnosed as a blood clot in the arm (actually from near the shoulder to the wrist) due to a combination of the bruising and inactivity of arm in a sling. On daily injections to help thin the blood which in turn will help dissolve the clot. These things are sent to try us. On the mend now. No surgery. Dispensed with the sling after about 18 days. Physio going well. Thinking of hiring an indoor training bike. Feeling fatter already. As per other comments. Stay positive!

  97. Christine Sellick says:

    What a useful post from someone who knows. Especially the bit about how long it takes for the bruising to heal. I broke collarbone and ribs slipping down last couple of stairs. The bruising in the armpit and around the chest is extensive. Ribs are actually more painful than the collarbone but even now doctors aren’t sure how many are broken. Finding it very frustrating as three weeks on I still can’t do the things I want to but know I have to be sensible. Found the part about depression interesting. I’m not prone to it usually but have found myself a bit down on days. Thank you very much for bothering to put up the post. It made me feel that I was normal!

  98. John says:

    Broke my right clavicle a month ago falling off my bike. Doctor advised that the bone would heal without surgery.
    My problem is the pain; it’s still excruciatingly painful, although at times there is no pain, generally when I move. I’m not keen on taking too many painkillers and have found that they don’t seem to help.
    I’m due back at the fracture clinic in a month when they will re-access the break and possibly advise surgery (50%/50%, they say).
    How do I reduce the pain?

  99. Nola Ward says:

    my collarbone was ripped apart in a wreck, the Dr. removed my Sternoclavical disc space (where your collarbone connects to your breastbone) so my collarbone attached to my throat. I could’nt move my arm without sever pain. So after I seen most of the top dr.s in Cincinnati I was reffered to Lexington Clinic Dr. Kibler removed my collarbone where it was attached he then drilled a hole in my collarbone and a hole in my breastbone and used cadver tendon figure eighted it to my second rib to secure my collarbone. My shoulder has dropped about 4inches and I deal with the pain daily,my trapesious muscle is shredding trying to hold up my shoulder an their concerned about my lung collapsing,

  100. Geert Lindeman says:

    Greeting’s at the one who reads this..

    My experience with a broken collarbone and the declining function of my shoulder.


    Broke my collarbone after falling of my bike due a pothole and thus losing control of my bike.
    It was a “nice” and “neat” break at 2/3 of the bone (as the doctor opinion)
    Hanging shoulder, bone protruding thrue the skin, numbness in fingers.
    At the emergency department they wrapped a piece of cloth around my arm and said : come back in 8 weeks.

    After a week at my gp/1 line doctor opted for surgery.

    At the hospital i opted (begged / till almost threatening) for surgery.
    Got surgery 4 weeks later.
    Plate and screws would be installed on top of the bone.
    On the day of the surgery the doctor had and did something else in mind.

    Whitout my informed consent placed an IM-nail inside the bone.
    I woke up after the surgery and had no idea information what they did with / to my shoulder.
    After 6 hours i got the chance to ask the doctor why an IM-nail and no plate.
    As he framed it “this was more easy and better than a plate”

    I was a little shocked / surprised at first,and didn’t had much though about it.
    Instructions i got, easy living, no heavy lifting, and pendulum motions.

    After a week i felt something protruding/poking/stabbing at the otherside of my collarbone (close to the AC ligaments) also my shoulder was feeling and looked shorter than the opposite side with my scapula sticking out of my back.

    1 time at the hospital : X-ray and a slap in the face “there’s nothing to see”

    3 weeks later
    2 time at the hospital : X-ray and a slap in the face “that’s the bone healing”

    6 weeks later
    3 time at the hospital : no X-ray and a slap in the face “that’s normal”

    16 weeks later
    4 time at the hospital : slap in the face “it’s in your head” “nothing wrong with your shoulder”

    1 year – 2 year – 4 year later
    Same thing every time.

    8 years later (2022)
    A malunited (malunion) collarbone
    – shorting of +/- 2 cm (ptotic driven in shoulder)
    – angular deformed (higher muscle tention in the neck muscle)
    – rotational deformed (drooping shoulder)
    – skapula dyskinesis ( abnormal movement)
    – skapula winging (laying on my back hurts)
    – limited range of motion
    – thoriac outlet syndrome (numb fingers at abduction and pulling back my shoulders)
    – chronic pain and a overall sore disfunctional shoulder.

    Treatment suggested by “doctors who know it all”

    – life long physical therapy (it does not and will never work with a malunion)
    – prescription pain killers (i am now addicted to opioids)
    – mental-health therapy ( it’s al in your head)
    – learn to live with it. (Screw you and F-off)

    This is the Healthcare in The Netherlands.

    I was a fitness enthusiast and 3/4 times a week at the gym.
    Great physical health ( running, biking, swimming, lifting weights)
    8 to12 hour work days in construction and road maintenance.
    I was never to tired for work, for my social life, for life it self.

    Thanks for reading.

  101. Jen says:

    Matt, my husband did this 20 years ago. He now has tremors in his hand from the nerve damage. Not sure if PTor OT can help at this point. Any ideas?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Jen, I am not far off that timescale myself (about 16 years for me) and co-incidentally I have been suffering from pain in the same shoulder and down my arm. I actually have a physio appointment next week!

      In my case I think it could be either RSI from computer work, a legacy of the collarbone break or a legacy of a crash I had last year. That time I fell on my left, didn’t break anything but there was a lot of energy involved and I know I was clutching at the right hand side to bring myself to a halt.

      So could be any or all the above.

      Judging from your husband, it just shows these things can have a long term impact even if at the time the injury might have been straightforward. I hope he is OK but I don’t have any advice really. Maybe regular sports massage might be useful? (but not much you can do to fix nerves).

  102. valerie brady says:

    Co codamol for a broken collarbone is what the hospital gave me….is this a joke. I’m off to visit the candyman for some REAL pain relief

    • Matt says:

      LOL, I understand Val 🙂

      TBF co-codamol comes in different strengths – some of the prescription stuff is a lot stronger than over the counter (I think it comes in multiples of 8mg and generally only 8mg is available over the counter).

      I’m no expert, but would always suggest care with the dosage – constipation is a thing!

  103. Lizzy says:

    Im 69 female fell on my stairs broke my right collar bone tough as im right handed it was agony went to gp first who gave me tramadol which i asked for as had back pain years ago and was the only painkiller which helped then she sent me to a and e and xray then given sling told it was broken and a phone consultation on day 3 advised not to take tramadol as doctor believed it stops healing but was only medication that allieviated the pain as i tried others.but eventually the tramadol had so many horrible side effects i stopped using them but paracetamol wasnt helping much but felt better than using tramadol. 2 weeks later another xray doctor said a clean break no surgery needed see you in six weeks dont lift anything .no physio mentioned.i found hot water bottle on my back area helped pain and kept sling on during day but off at night sleeping propped up not moving all night .i always walked my dog but took nearly 5weeks before i felt confident to walk her using left hand only.when i walk my neck shoulder and arm have a nagging pain which spreads to my upper back so have only been walking 20/30 minutes . I can move my arm but cant lift it by chest but am not worried im not ready.yes i feel flat and feel a bit like a hermit as dont really want to engage much with anyone. But so grateful its winter as i love working in my garden . Ive another xray in 2weeks so that will be 8 th week post break it does feel better every day but luckily my husband whose retired has taken on most housework and helpful with preparing meals it must be so difficult on your own .and im grateful i have a bath as its been great to soak in .read the comments and if id been younger i think i would be healing much quicker but hoping for positive words at next consultation but cant stop the feeling how wary im feeling about going out socially to family parties ect as people do like a hug when we meet

    • Matt says:

      Lizzy, I hope you are on the mend. I found weakened muscles post injury from atrophe led to neck and shoulder ache and it takes time to build back up (a good example is babies – it takes them a few months to support their head).

      These injuries are so frustrating – you don’t feel ill, but you can’t do what you want! But eventually that changes.

      Best wishes etc.

  104. Kaz says:

    I broke my right collarbone 8 years ago in a cycling accident. It healed well naturally but with the usually lump in the middle. Caused by impact through my shoulder joint which took longer to heal than the collarbone. It was incredibly painful first 2 weeks.
    This year, January 23rd, a broke my left collarbone in a cycling accident. I think caused by the bike landing on top of me and therefore caused by the handlebars. It was not healing well 12 weeks down the line and so I opted for surgery. Now 5 days post op with plate and screws. Pros and cons of having surgery: I can move my neck freely which before felt like there was some impingement, no pain in collarbone at all. Downside is my shoulder joint now aches when it never did before and feels clunky and I have a numb patch at the top of my arm/shoulder. Hoping these are temporary. Will report back in two weeks once I am allowed to remove sling.
    I did have full range of movement in shoulder prior to surgery but no strength due to nonunion. A difficult decision to make when you are usually very active.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Kaz, yikes, sounds like a really long haul getting well again. Hope it works out OK, I can’t believe some of the horror stories I have read here.

      It’s now 15 years since I first broke my collarbone (managed it again in 2017), both times it’s healed without surgery. BUT, shoulder is now very clicky which might be a result of neglecting to exercise it properly over the years.

      I need to do a ‘long term review’ but my takeway is use it or lose it. Over time, focus on keeping the joint stable with suitable shoulder exercises (not beef-cake weights but more the micro muscles that keep things working properly).

  105. Linda Willimont says:

    This blog is by far the most useful source of information I’ve come across anywhere since breaking my left collar bone when I fell off my bike 3 weeks ago! Thanks everyone.

    I fell backwards and slightly sideways and the back of my left shoulder/upper back took virtually the whole impact. I actually think I was lucky not to sustain any worse injuries, though this one is bad enough.

    My fracture is displaced and I’ve been offered surgery but was also told there’s an 85% chance of it healing on its own. As I’m 64 and retired, I think I’ll probably wait and see if it mends on its own as I’m not keen on surgery if it can be avoided.

    It was excruciatingly painful at first – the feeling of bones moving around and rubbing against each other was sick-making – but 3 weeks on, it now doesn’t hurt that much at all and after being on heavy doses of paracetamol and codeine, I’m down to just the odd dose of paracetamol maybe once a day. Night time is when it hurts most but it’s more of an ache really rather than a pain.

    I’m struggling a bit mentally as I’m limited in what I can do fitness wise and I can feel my fitness draining away all the time. I’m not driving either as I don’t have the full range of movement in my left arm to turn the wheel, though luckily my car is automatic which will make life easier when I do go back to it.

    6 years ago I broke my wrist and a bone in my foot at the same time while exercising at the gym (fell off a step while doing step ups) and that was far worse physically but the enforced period of inactivity due to this current injury is still getting me down. I had to stop doing step ups and step aerobics (the latter also hurt my knees). I did spin (indoor cycling) for 3 years but the spin studio closed down because of the pandemic and hasn’t reopened. I’m only a hobby cyclist, just tending to do it when on holiday, but at the moment I don’t ever want to get on a bike again.

    I see the consultant again in 3 weeks and will update then.

  106. andrea champ says:

    Hi, I broke my collar bone in May when my horse fell (fortunately she is fine). I didn’t have surgery on it for 8 weeks although it was 2.7cm displaced and there was a further piece of broken bone in the middle which had gone vertical and back to front!. Finally I had to get the surgery done privately as there was no reunion of the bones at all and there were frustrating delays on the NHS. 4 and a half weeks have passed since the surgery and I still have very limited arm movement, particularly out to the side which hasn’t really improved at all. Also my bicep is swollen and very uncomfortable as is the top of the shoulder blade. I am hoping that is a normal part of the healing process! I am having physio and hoping very much to end up with a frozen shoulder because of all the extra time in a sling. Not able to drive yet as it is my gear shift arm but I hope it won’t be much longer…….

  107. Justin says:

    This is a great forum – thank you all. I broke my collar bone in a road bike crash in June (and tore my adductor leg muscle but that’s another story). They say it is comminuted and displaced so that means the collar bone is in several pieces and not in a line. A bit like a Z shape.
    So here’s my top ten tips:
    1) Do not under any circumstances have a bath. I was stuck for nearly half an hour trying to get out. Much hilarity amid some real concern.
    2) Buy some shirts. You won’t be wearing anything without buttons up the front for a few weeks. Including at night.
    3) Write down a list of questions for the specialist. The fracture clinic staff wanted me out of there as quickly as possible and I would never have remembered what I wanted to ask. I also insisted on seeing the X-ray and asked to take a photo of it. I am glad I did that.
    4) You may have to relearn eating, brushing and wiping (!) with the other hand. Which could get messy.
    5) Avoid sneezing at all costs. It’s like you’ve been shoulder-charged by a rhino.
    6) It might itch! My skin is itchy around the bone protrusion where it is tented.
    7) Get out of the sling for short periods as soon as you reasonably can. Keeping it on, though comforting, is not doing your elbow any favours.
    8) You may suffer low moods. The lack of exercise endorphins hit me hard. Leading to low mood and a general feeling of uselessness. Don’t underestimate this.

    I’m now ten weeks in with my next X-ray in two. No surgery but the last X-ray showed the bones weren’t fusing yet so time will tell…

  108. Emmett Gulley says:

    I just broke my collarbone in a bike wreck due to a bonehead reason(no pun intended) my question to you is twofold first, is yellowing common? Second, how did you get through the pain? My shoulder hurts but my left sternum feels as if I am getting a TT( you can figure it out). Due to transportation issues my first visit to the orthopedic surgeon has been delayed for 2 weeks. I may call and get it set for this next week because this is unreal plus I want to know if I will need surgery. Your post on this has cheered me up quite a bit.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Emmett, welcome to the collarbone club. How my info helps.

      I am not a doctor so can’t give medical advice but in my experience I did get yellowing from bruising – the bones have quite a lot of blood in them too so I did get discoloration.

    • Justin says:

      Hi Emmett,

      Yes I got yellowing too. It kind of spread across my chest and down my upper arm, I think it’s normal.
      Can’t answer the pain question but I do remember my consultant saying if there’s a lot of pain and the broken bones are displaced (spread out – you can tell from the X-ray) then those two things together make it more likely they will operate.
      Update on my own situation: I broke my collar bone eight months ago and X-rays over several months show the bones have still not fused – enough is enough so I am getting it plated after all.
      Good luck to you and I hope the pain is becoming more bearable now.

  109. Collette says:

    Hello All, thank you so much for this site and your postings so reassuring to know I’m not on my own in this. I had to fight to get the fracture clinic to operate despite the mess being hit with a car left my clavicle in! Now 1 week post surgery and feeling very depressed about the ongoing pain, effect of pain medication and lack of activity. But I have a specific question – as I also fractured ribs I’m unable to wear a bra and that is making me physically uncomfortable – grateful for any suggestions from women out there who’ve gone through this!

  110. Stephen Harris says:

    Great blog – has made me feel comfortable and concerned in equal measure.

    62nd birthday present to myself was an offroad motorbike course – brilliant! Fell off at low speed and broke collar bone – yes it hurt at the time but had pretty full movement and strength … so did the 3 hour afternoon off road sessions/hill climbs etc … and then rode a motorbike back for 70 miles the following day … other than a bit of ‘deep heat’ gel no pain killers!!

    Three days later decided to get it checked and yes … well snapped. Two weeks to first consultant appointment and ‘on balance’ suggestion is to see how it mends. Agreed to wait further three weeks and if no signs of mending to go for operation and plate. Would prefer not to have plate as they were clear would need another op to remove it.

    Bruising all gone now so no yellow shoulder.

    Still not taking pain killers and being told not to move it so much when doing exercises. The rub here is that I do not have a car and will have to get back on a motorbike for getting to work (120 miles each way).

    Roll on the next xray.

    (btw … it was on my birthday! lol)

    Can’t fault nhs!

    • JS says:

      Hope everyone is on the mend, it’s good to read all of your experiences.

      I’m two weeks post break. Think I was quite optimistic at first thinking I’d be starting to be able to dress properly and maybe drive soon but the healing process seems to be quite extensive.

      Been off any kind of pain med since last week, managing to have a shower every day and wash the pit, unable to think about lifting my arm to shave it yet which is driving me insane, it’s the small things that in finding difficult like being able to eat properly, learning to use my left hand for everything, not being able to tie my hair up. Meant to be going on holiday (longhaul) for a wedding in two weeks and dreading it.

      Having sling free time a few times a day and trying to do the finger, wrist and elbow exercises as I can feel my arm stiffening up.

      Already noticing weight gain and having really low days where I’m snapping at my loved ones. Hard to see light at the end of the tunnel at the moment but we just have to keep going.

      Have an appointment with the specialist tomorrow to see how I’m healing and if I will need surgery.

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