In this section
If your child has a fractured clavicle (collar bone), they will usually heal well with rest and time. A cast is not needed. Clavicle fractures usually occur in the middle of the bone.
Most clavicle fractures are undisplaced, which means that the bone remains correctly aligned, or they are only slightly displaced.
This fact sheet provides information on what to do once your child has been treated in hospital for a clavicle fracture. If you think your child has a fracture and you are looking for first aid advice, see our fact sheet Fractures (broken bones).
Your child should wear a sling for the first two to three weeks, including while they are in bed. This will help them feel more comfortable and help the fracture heal. Your child’s fingers should be higher than their elbow. Encourage your child to keep moving their elbow, hands and fingers while they
are wearing their sling.
During the first few days it is important for your child to rest as much as possible.
Fractures are painful. Although immobilising the arm with the sling will help to reduce the pain, additional pain relief (e.g. paracetamol) is often needed. Give the medication regularly for the first few days, following the directions on the packet, or as directed by the doctor.
Giving pain medications before bedtime will help your child have a better sleep, as lying down with a clavicle fracture will cause pain.
Your child can stop wearing the sling when the fracture site is no longer tender and your child can move the arm fully with little or no discomfort. In children, this is usually after three weeks, but can take as long as six weeks.
Not all children who have had a clavicle fracture need to have a follow-up appointment. Children under 11 years old with undisplaced clavicle fractures do not need a follow-up with a doctor or an X-ray.
Children older than 11 years, or those who have a displaced fracture will need to be reviewed at their local hospital or by their GP one week after the injury. You will be advised if your child requires additional appointments. Surgery is usually not required, even after very displaced
Gentle shoulder movement can begin when the sling is removed. Your child may return to sports such as swimming as soon as it is comfortable to do so and pain-free. However, contact sports should be avoided for six weeks after the sling comes off.
A lump at the fracture site is quite normal and may take about a year to disappear. In older children, a small bump may remain. This is no cause for concern.
Take your child to your GP if you are concerned about:
Why doesn’t my child need a follow-up appointment?
If your child is under 11 years old and had an undisplaced
fracture, they do not need a follow-up appointment. This is because healing is
rapid in children. All children with a displaced clavicle fracture should still
be seen by their GP.
Why do child children over 11 need a follow-up appointment?
If your child is older than 11 years, they should see their
GP for a follow-up appointment. This is because the majority of clavicle
fractures in this age group are displaced.
If my child has a lump at the fracture site that doesn’t go
away, can anything be done about this?
these lumps will eventually go away in a few years. If the lump does not get
smaller after this time, you can have it reviewed. See your GP for a referral.
Surgery may be an option, but most people do not elect to have the surgery
because the lump will not cause problems. Also, surgery will leave a scar that
is often more noticeable than the original lump.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital and the Victorian Paediatric Orthopaedic Network. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed November 2018.
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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.