Sports Rehab and broken collar bone is a common fracture in contact sports like football, hockey, wrestling and soccer. A fractured clavicle or collarbone can also happen in sports activities where falling hard happens such as skiing, cycling and snowboarding.
The clavicle is the bone located from the rib cage (sternum) to the shoulder blade (scapular) connecting the arm to the body. It is a long bone that usually fractures in the middle and does not affect vital nerves and blood vessels close to it.
This type of fracture occurs by a hard impact on the bone or falling with an outstretched upper extremity. The force of these impacts is transferred into the clavicle which is a long, thin bone resulting in the fracture. In this article we are going to discuss the symptoms, sports rehab and prevention of these injuries.
Signs of a fracture of the collarbone are obvious and include (1) pain along the bone (2) difficulty performing movements with the upper extremity (3) swelling, tenderness and bruising along the bone (4) extreme pain trying to move arm or shoulder (5) grinding sensation with elevation of arm (6) a recognizable bulge near the fracture site and (7) the involved shoulder sags down and forward.
With the initial onset of the fracture get to the emergency room or orthopedist as soon as possible. Here the specialist will determine the extent of the fracture and to make sure the nerves and blood vessels are intact. The orthopedist will also check the sensation and strength of the upper extremity. If the collarbone is fractured in fragments and displaced surgery may be needed. Many times the clavicle breaks through the skin thus the need for treatment to reduce infection.
If the clavicle stays aligned sports rehab can be started. The doctor will immobilize the involved arm in a sling and at this time icing applications is a must. Applying ice a few times per day and taking medication will reduce the pain and swelling noted with this fracture. The physical therapist can use a cold laser to reduce the sensitivity, decrease swelling and heal the bruising. While in the sling the therapist will start performing gentle passive range of motion to reduce the rigidity or stiffness.
When there is sufficient healing the orthopedist will recommend a progressive strengthening program. This usually consists of light weights and resistive bands and exercises supervised by the specialist. To build up the endurance in the involved upper extremity a bicycle for the arms called an upper body ergometer is often used.
Sports rehab must include a home exercise program outlined by the physical therapist which can include finger ladder, pulleys, pendulum exercises to keep the shoulder loose. Resistive straps are also used in the home setting to strengthen the arm especially the rotator cuff muscles.
It is very difficult to prevent clavicle fractures because they happen suddenly and unexpectedly so it is best to take precautions such as (1) wear protective gear especially in contact sports (2) knowing the right way to play the particular sports activity reduces the chance of an awkward fall or unexpected contact (3) maintain a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and (4) most important continue a good stretching and strengthening program to include proper warm up before participating in sports.
Most clavicle fractures heal on their own if there is proper immobilization and sports rehab.