Kids Health Info

Fracture care: clavicle (collar bone)

  • 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. 

    Fracture care: clavicle

    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).

    Care at home 

    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.

    Fracture care: clavicle 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.

    Follow-up

    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 fractures.

    After the sling is removed

    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:

    • pain at the site of the fracture after six weeks
    • persistent tingling or altered sensation in the arm or hand.

    Key points to remember

    • A fractured clavicle (collar bone) will usually heal well with rest and time.
    • Your child should wear a sling until there is no tenderness over the fracture and they can move their shoulder without pain or discomfort (usually two to three weeks).
    • Children older than 11 years or those who have a displaced fracture will need a follow-up appointment one week after their injury.
    • Avoid contact sports for six weeks after removal of the sling.

    For more information

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    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?

    Usually 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.

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.

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Disclaimer
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.