How common are clavicle injuries? How long does it take to heal and will it have any lasting impact on the individual's health? The fact is that clavicle injury is a common injury suffered in automobile collisions. In most cases, the injury requires only minor medical intervention and time to heal. It is rare for a clavicle injury to cause permanent, long-term injury or loss of range of motion.
Clavicle fractures are common and out of the more than 63 million estimated bone fractures in the US each year, they account for 66% of all forms of shoulder fractures, and between 2.6% to 5% of all fractures. It has a prevalence rate that may equal 64 per 100,000 people with 29 being the mean age of those suffering a clavicle fracture. Symptoms that a clavicle is broken and not just bruised include limited range of motion, downward slumping, persistent bruising, and a grinding/crunching feeling while moving.
The collarbone is very much like a strut that is designed to facilitate the motion of the arms. It is not a shock absorber and does not have the strength of the femur or other bones that are designed to absorb significant stresses and impacts. As such, there are many ways a clavicle injury can occur in an automobile accident. The most common are when the collarbone strikes the steering wheel or when an unrestrained driver or passenger is thrown from the vehicle. In high speed impacts, the collarbone can also be broken by the seat belt which halts the occupant's forward motion but can transfer sufficient force through the collarbone in the process.
Most injuries to the clavicle do not require surgical intervention to heal. Most treatments involve immobilizing the shoulder via a sling and the application of a combination of ice and physical therapy. Children typically heal faster with a usual recovery time of of 3-8 weeks while healthy adults have a recovery time of 6-8 weeks. In some cases, complete recovery can take 12 weeks or longer to achieve. The recovery period is heavily influenced by the individual's age and overall health at the time of the injury.
Once the collarbone heals, there is a minimal chance that the collarbone will break in the same spot again. This depends upon the type of break that occurred, the overlap of the bones as they heal, and whether shortening has taken place. Similarly, there is minimal chance of long-term pain associated with a broken collarbone as a clavicle injury does not typically cause severe nerve damage. However, nerve damage that can result in permanent numbness of the upper chest can occur during surgical intervention.
Collarbone injuries typically don't cause significant long-term impact on an individual's health, quality of life, or ability to work. In the short term, the injury may require adjustments to work duties and hobbies, but in most cases these can be fully resumed once the injury is healed.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients in Olathe, Goodland, Hays, Topeka, and elsewhere in Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri who have suffered a clavicle injury in an automobile accident. Our office helps clients pursue compensation to cover their medical expenses, therapy, and pain and suffering that result when collarbones are broken.
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