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Fractured clavicle

Your child has a broken collar bone (also known as the clavicle). A broken bone is sometimes referred to as a crack or fracture – these all mean the same thing.

Why did my child not have an x-ray?

Most children with a broken collar bone do not require an x-ray. In fact, we don’t routinely x-ray children between the ages of 2 and 12 years old. At this age broken collar bones heal without complication so x-rays don’t change how we treat them. For the same reason, your child does not require routine follow up.

Why does the arm need to be in a sling?

This is to help healing and reduce pain by taking the weight off the shoulder.

The sling should be worn for 10 days under clothes and then 10 more days over clothes.

Can the sling be taken off for washing?

The sling can be removed for washing. If your child leans forward, the arm will naturally move away from the body to wash under the armpit. It is important to dry this area properly.

What if my child will not keep the sling on all the time?

Some younger children do not want to keep their sling on – do not worry! They can use their arm as much as their pain allows and will limit themselves. Rough play should be avoided, however.

Will it be painful?

The injury can be very painful at first. Pain relief like paracetamol or ibuprofen should be given. Please see here for more information on giving pain relief: Paracetamol and ibuprofen.

It is often uncomfortable in bed so pain relief before sleeping may help your child sleep better and sleeping propped up on extra pillows may also help.

For the first few days, the skin over the fracture may be bruised. This will settle down on its own over the first week. If the skin appears to be breaking down or you are concerned about it please see your GP or come back to Emergency Department.

Will there be any other symptoms to look for?

A lump will develop over the fracture site, which will be tender to start with because of the bruising and soft tissue swelling. Later it will turn hard and be painless as new bone starts to form as part of the healing process. This lump may stay for months but, especially in younger children, should eventually get smaller.

How can I be sure the collar bone is broken?

If after a week a lump does not appear and your child is pain free then the collar bone was likely not broken and they can resume normal activities.

Anything else?

Exercise is very important. Your child should be encouraged to move their fingers and hand as soon as they can. Once pain allows they can gently move their arm.

Your child can go to school but should wear the sling as advised. They should not take part in any PE, sport or rough activities for 6 weeks.

99.8% of these fractures heal very well by themselves and do not need further follow up.

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns please ring the Emergency Department on 0114 271 7388.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ED16

Resource Type: Article

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