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Common Ski Injuries #4: Clavicle Fracture

We discussed in the previous post how a fall onto the side of the shoulder may cause damage to the AC joint. The same mechanism of injury may also cause a fracture to the clavicle (collarbone). Clavicle fractures are less commonly caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand or elbow. 

The clavicle usually fractures in the middle third, the weakest part of the bone, and this will be indicated by the site of pain. There will often be a visual deformity caused by the fracture. An x-ray will help identify the location, as well as the degree of displacement. An x-ray will also identify if there is any damage to the lungs, a rare but serious complication of more severely displaced fractures. Patients should also seek further medical assessment should they start to feel numbness, tingling or weakness in the arm or hand, indicative of compromised neural function. 

Treatment involves sling immobilization for 4-6 weeks to allow pain to settle and initial healing to occur. During this time, gentle range of motion exercises may be performed. Once the bone has started to mend, range of motion may be progressed and strength training introduced.

Surgery for these injuries is usually reserved for those with open (poking out of the skin!) or severely displaced fractures, fractures that fail to heal, or those with aesthetic concerns.

If you have suffered a shoulder injury on the slopes then contact us now and let us help guide you on the path to recovery. Inquire about our new physio pricing system.

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