How to Relieve Pain from Clavicle Fracture

Three Parts:Seeking Medical CareManaging the Pain During RecoveryPromoting Rapid Healing

The clavicle is your collar bone. It is the bone that goes from the top of your breastbone to your shoulder blade. Most clavicle fractures occur from falls, sports injuries, or car accidents. If you think you have a broken clavicle, go to the doctor. If you wait, it is less likely to heal properly.[1][2]

Part 1
Seeking Medical Care

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    Recognize the symptoms of a fractured clavicle. It hurts and has a distinctive set of symptoms. People with clavicle fractures often have:[3][4][5]
    • Pain that gets worse when the shoulder moves
    • Swelling
    • Pain when the clavicle is touched
    • Bruising
    • A bump on or near the shoulder
    • A crunching noise or grinding sensation when you move your shoulder
    • Difficulty moving the shoulder
    • Tingling or numbness in your arm or fingers
    • A sagging shoulder
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    Go to the doctor so the bone can be set properly. This is important so that it can heal as quickly as possible and in the proper position. Bones that don't heal in the proper position often heal with strange-looking lumps.[6][7]
    • The doctor will do an X-ray and maybe even a CT scan to figure out exactly where the fracture is.
    • The doctor will put your arm in a sling. This is because when you move your shoulder, your clavicle also moves. It may also reduce the pain by taking some of the weight off the fractured clavicle.
    • Children will have to wear the sling for one to two months. Adults will have to wear it for two to four months.
    • The doctor might have you wear a figure-eight bandage to keep your arm and collarbone in the correct position.
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    Have surgery if the broken ends of the bone don’t connect. If this is the case, it may be necessary to have surgery to hold the pieces in the correct position while they heal. While surgery is unpleasant, it will make sure that it heals without any remaining marks or lumps.[8][9]
    • The doctor may use plates, screws, or rods to stabilize the bone.

Part 2
Managing the Pain During Recovery

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    Reduce pain and swelling with ice. The cold will slow down the rate of swelling. It will also help numb it a little bit.[10]
    • Use an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel. Don’t put the ice directly on your skin because this can damage your skin.
    • On the first day, ice the fracture for 20 minutes per hour each hour during the day.
    • For the next few days afterwards, use the ice every three to four hours.
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    Rest. If you stay quiet your body will be able to direct more energy into healing. Resting will also reduce your chances of injuring yourself more.[11]
    • If it hurts to move your arm, don’t. That is your body telling you that it is too soon.
    • You may need more sleep while healing. Be sure to get at least eight hours.
    • Being rested will also put you in a better mood and help you cope with the pain.
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    Get relief from over-the-counter painkillers. These medications will also reduce inflammation. But wait 24 hours after the injury occurred before using these medications because they can increase bleeding or may decrease bone healing.[12][13] Waiting 24 hours allows your body to begin healing naturally.
    • Try ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
    • Take naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
    • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and your doctor’s orders. Do not take more.
    • Do not give medications containing aspirin to children under 19.
    • Consult your doctor if you have or have previously had heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, stomach ulcers or internal bleeding.
    • Do not mix these medications with alcohol or other medications including over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, or supplements.
    • Talk to your doctor if your pain is still unbearable. Your doctor can write you a prescription for something stronger.

Part 3
Promoting Rapid Healing

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    Eat a diet that is rich in calcium. Calcium is vital for your body to build bone. The following foods are good sources of calcium:[14]
    • Cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy.
    • Broccoli, kale, and other dark, green, leafy vegetables.
    • Fish with bones soft enough to eat, such as sardines or canned salmon
    • Foods where calcium has been added. Examples include soy, cereal, fruit juice, and milk substitutes.
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    Get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for people to absorb calcium. You can get vitamin D from:[15][16]
    • Spending time in the sun. Your body will produce vitamin D when sunlight hits your skin.
    • Eating eggs, meat, salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
    • Eating foods that have had vitamin D added, such as cereal, soy products, dairy, and powdered milk.
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    Help your body heal with physical therapy. This will help reduce stiffness while you are wearing the sling. After the sling is off, it will help you strengthen the muscles and regain flexibility.[17][18]
    • The physical therapist will give you exercises that are designed for your level of strength and healing. Be sure to do them as directed.
    • Build up slowly. If it hurts, stop. Don’t do too much too soon.
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    Ease stiffness with warmth. Once the injury is no longer swelling, you can apply heat. This will feel good and increase circulation. Either warm or dry heat should help.
    • If you feel sore after physical therapy, this may help.
    • Apply a warm pack for about 15 minutes. But don’t put it directly onto your skin. Wrap it in a towel so you won’t burn yourself.
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    Ask your doctor if you are strong enough for other pain reduction methods. But don’t do these activities before your doctor says you are ready. Possibilities include:
    • Acupuncture
    • Massage
    • Yoga

Sources and Citations

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-collarbone/basics/causes/con-20035171
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-collarbone/basics/definition/con-20035171
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-collarbone/basics/symptoms/con-20035171
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Article Info

Categories: Pain Management and Recovery