Clavicle Fractures Specialist

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Dr Poh Seng Yew



MMED (Ortho)



What are Clavicle Fractures

The clavicle, commonly known as the collarbone, is a long bone connecting the shoulder to the sternum (breastbone). As a key structural component of the shoulder joint, it not only provides stability but also facilitates the movement of the arm. Despite this role, the clavicle is prone to fractures, particularly when subjected to substantial force or trauma. These fractures occur when the bone is broken, leading to symptoms such as pain, swelling, and limited mobility in the shoulder area.

Clavicle fractures can arise from various incidents, including falls, sports-related activities, motor vehicle accidents, direct trauma, or repetitive use of the shoulder joint. The nature of these fractures varies, with the resulting symptoms and treatment options depending on the severity and location of the break.

Causes of Clavicle Fractures

Clavicle fractures can result from a variety of circumstances:

  • Falls on an Outstretched Arm or Shoulder
    This is a frequent cause of clavicle fractures. When an individual falls and extends an arm to break the fall, the impact on the arm or shoulder can transmit force to the collarbone, leading to a fracture.
  • Sport-Related Collisions or Direct Blows to the Shoulder
    Colliding with other players or receiving direct blows to the shoulder in sports like football, rugby, or hockey increases the risk of fracturing the clavicle.
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents with Impact on the Shoulder Region
    The forceful impact experienced during car accidents, such as hitting the dashboard or steering wheel, can cause a clavicle fracture.
  • Direct Trauma from Heavy Objects or Solid Surfaces
    Accidents involving heavy objects falling onto the shoulder or impacts from solid objects can exert enough force to break the collarbone.
  • Overuse or Repetitive Stress
    Activities involving repetitive motions, such as throwing, swinging, or weightlifting, can lead to stress fractures in the collarbone due to continuous strain.

Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of a clavicle fracture typically manifest immediately following the injury and can include:

  • Pain in the Shoulder Area: A primary indicator of a clavicle fracture is pain, particularly when moving the arm or shoulder.
  • Swelling, Bruising, and Tenderness: These are common around the fractured area, indicating trauma to the bone and surrounding tissues.
  • Visible Deformity or Bump: This is a clear sign of a fracture, often suggesting a displacement of the broken bone.
  • Limited Shoulder Mobility: A clavicle fracture can hinder the ability to carry out everyday activities, as movements such as lifting or reaching become challenging and uncomfortable.
  • Grinding or Popping Sensation: In some cases, individuals may experience a peculiar sensation when attempting specific motions, further indicating a possible fracture.


The process of diagnosing a clavicle fracture involves several steps:

  • Physical Examination: Initially, the shoulder specialist conducts a thorough physical examination. They look for visible deformities, swelling, tenderness, and abnormal movements in the affected area. The shoulder is gently manoeuvred to evaluate the range of motion and identify areas of pain.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays can be used to confirm the diagnosis. It provides detailed images of the collarbone, helping assess the location and severity of the fracture. In certain cases, additional imaging methods, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, may be employed for further insights.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Various non-surgical methods are available for treating clavicle fractures. The choice of treatment depends on the fracture's severity and location.


For non-displaced or minimally displaced fractures, shoulder specialists may suggest immobilisation using a sling, figure-of-eight brace, or shoulder immobiliser. These devices support the arm and shoulder, allowing the fracture to heal naturally over time.

Pain Management

Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed analgesics may be recommended to manage discomfort during the healing process.

Physical Therapy

Once the fracture begins to heal, physical therapy is initiated to restore range of motion, strengthen shoulder muscles, and promote full functional recovery.

Surgical Treatment Options

Surgical intervention may be necessary for certain clavicle fractures, particularly when the fracture is displaced, open, or fragmented.

Surgical Procedure

Surgery involves both the realignment of fractured bone pieces and their stabilisation. This is typically done using hardware such as plates, screws, or pins, which hold the bone fragments in place to promote proper healing.

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Prevention Strategies

While clavicle fractures often occur suddenly, some strategies can help reduce their risk:

  • Prevent Vehicle Accidents by Driving Safely - Adhering to safety measures while driving, including wearing seatbelts, can reduce the risk of clavicle fractures in vehicle accidents.
  • Maintain Good Bone Health - Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in calcium helps in maintaining strong bones, thereby reducing the likelihood of fractures.
  • Prevent Stress on the Shoulder by Using Proper Techniques - Using the correct techniques and body positioning when engaging in sports or activities like bike riding can help prevent undue stress on the shoulder.
  • Reduce the Risk of Injury by Wearing Protective Gear - In sports or hobbies that involve physical contact or the risk of falls, wearing appropriate protective gear can help shield the clavicle from potential injury.

Dr Poh Seng Yew



MMED (Ortho)


With over 20 years of experience, Dr Poh Seng Yew is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in hip, knee, shoulder and elbow surgery, sports medicine, and trauma surgery.

  • Former Director of Sports Service, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital
  • Clinical Hip and Sports Medicine Fellow, Orthopädische Chirurgie München (OCM), Germany
  • Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, FRCSEd (Orthopaedic Surgery)
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery), National University of Singapore
  • Member, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCSEd)
  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), National University of Singapore



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Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
Singapore 329563

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    Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
    38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
    Singapore 329563

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    What Should You Avoid Doing with a Clavicle Fracture?

    Those with a clavicle fracture should try to limit activities that could exacerbate the injury. This includes avoiding lifting heavy objects, participating in high-impact sports, or performing strenuous movements that strain the shoulder. Consult with a shoulder specialist for personalised guidance on activity restrictions and safe practices during recovery.

    Can You Move Your Arm with a Clavicle Fracture?

    It can be painful to move the arm with a clavicle fracture. Initially, immobilising the arm and shoulder can help facilitate healing. Gradually, as healing progresses, light movements of the fingers, wrist, and elbow can help maintain mobility and prevent joint stiffness. A shoulder specialist can offer tailored guidance on safely increasing arm movement.

    How Long Does It Take for a Clavicle Fracture to Heal?

    The healing duration for a clavicle fracture varies, with factors like the fracture’s severity and the individual’s age playing a role. On average, healing takes about 6 to 12 weeks, but some fractures may require a longer period. Complete healing in adults typically occurs within four months.

    What is the Likelihood of Regaining Full Shoulder Function After a Clavicle Fracture?

    Most individuals can regain full shoulder function after a clavicle fracture with proper treatment and rehabilitation. Physical therapy can help restore the range of motion, strength, and flexibility of the shoulder joint. Adherence to the recommended rehabilitation programme and exercises is intended to aid in recovery.

    Are There Any Long-Term Complications Associated with a Clavicle Fracture?

    While most clavicle fractures heal without long-term complications, some individuals may experience residual pain, limited shoulder mobility, or a visible bump at the fracture site. Rare complications include malunion or nonunion of the bone. Regular consultations with a shoulder specialist can help manage the risk of complications.