Shoulder Fractures with Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group
Welcome to a Medical Minute segment with Dr. Christopher Jones, MD, fellowship-trained, board-certified Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon as he discusses clavicle fractures, how technology advancements have influenced the treatment process, and the typical recovery time to heal from a clavicle fracture.
What is the most common type of shoulder fracture?
The most common shoulder fracture that Dr. Jones’ and his team sees are clavicle fractures. Mountain biking is very common in the Colorado Springs community and people fall off their bikes and break their clavicles quite often.
If someone hurts their shoulder, at what point should they be seen by a physician?
If someone has broken their clavicle, they are going to feel it, hear it, and therefore know it. They are going to feel pain and there may be some visible evidence of deformity, significant bleeding, bruising, or tenting of the skin. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should be seen right away.
How has the treatment process of clavicle fractures changed over time?
There have been quite a few improvements to how clavicle fractures are treated now vs traditional methods. Historically, clavicle fractures were treated non-operatively. However, in recent studies, physicians are finding that these fractures typically do not heal as well as they thought they did when left untreated. During the injury evaluation process, there is a certain criteria that needs to be looked at such as x-rays, skin, and other things that would tell a physician if the patient needs surgery. Dependent upon these findings, the physician will develop a customized treatment plan to ensure efficient healing.
What type of procedure is used to treat clavicle fractures?
The clavicle will typically break in three different areas – either in the mid-shaft, which is the most common type of clavicle fracture, medial, and/or lateral segments of the bone. Treatment plans will vary drastically based on where the fracture is located however, plates and screws are the most commonly utilized tools to stabilize and piece the fracture back together. In some cases, a rod is inserted down the center of the bone.
What is the recovery time?
The average healing time of a clavicle facture that has not been treated operatively is approximately 16 weeks. Treating a clavicle fracture operatively significantly reduces the recovery time down to an average of 12 weeks. Recovery will vary dependent upon a patient’s diligence with their prescribed post-operative physical rehabilitation protocols.
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