Q. I am 43 and active. Last weekend I fell off my bike and landed on my shoulder. I heard a crack and had severe pain in my collar bone. I went to the emergency room and was told I sustained a clavicle (collar bone) fracture. I was given a sling and referred to an orthopedic surgeon. The doctor said I should have surgery to fix the fracture. I have been researching this injury and it appears many patients with clavicle fractures can heal well without surgery. What do you think I should do?
A. Fractures of the clavicle are very common injuries, particularly falling from a bicycle or motorcycle or being thrown to the ground playing football. Traditionally, these fractures were allowed to heal in a sling with good results in many patients.
Recent studies, however, reveal better healing rates, improved motion, and improved strength in those patients that have surgical repair of clavicle fractures.
Many factors come into the decision-making process, including age of the patient, activity level, degree of displacement of the fracture, associated other injuries, and right or left handiness. Since you are uncertain as to your best option, you may want to get a second orthopedic opinion.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net