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Broken Collarbone That Won't Heal.

Discussion in 'Downhill & Freeride' started by HardtailHack, Jun 12, 2010.

  1. HardtailHack

    HardtailHack used an iron once

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    I broke my collarbone almost a year ago, it broke in two places and had a nice little bit of floating bone. I went for an X-ray after I did it and at the two week mark but I was told I didn't need one at six weeks as I had no pain and full movement.

    Long story short I had an X-ray last week and I got my print out thingy yesterday, it's still broken in one spot and it looks like a decent gap. I am about to apply for some jobs and I have no idea if I should tell them or not, it causes me little to no pain. I have not yet seen the doctor to talk about the X-ray as I am still waiting for swab test results from a leg infection and I have to get a bone scan this week, so it will be a week til I see the Doc.

    Does anyone else have a broken collarbone they just put up with?

    Cheers.
     

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  2. spinner

    spinner Monkey

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    I broke mine about 18 months ago. After 6 weeks in a sling , I had xrays , the doc said it had joined up and all was well.

    A while back I noticed the bone doesn't move the same as the other side when I roll my shoulder in a circular motion. I can also move the bone a little by pushing down on it. All this leads me to believe that it hasn't joined up. I also get a slight pinching sensation at the shoulder end of the bone. I have full movement and it feels 95% normal , it doesn't affect riding.

    I have read that it is possible to get by with a "non union" , (at least I can't break it again !) but I'm worried that its going to cause discomfort , pain and other problems in years to come. I'm going back to the clinic to get it looked at again , I guess surgery will be the only option now.
     
  3. was?

    was? Monkey

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    it is not uncommon that a broken collarbone doesn`t reunite. pseudoarthrosis may occur in the long term, and your functional ergonomics may change to the worse. i´d say it´s up to you, the clavicula has a funtion...
     
  4. Joss DeWaele

    Joss DeWaele Chimp

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    I broke my clavicle for the first time three years ago, and didn't go to the clinic because I had no health insurance. It healed partially, but then separated when I was doing dips during my off-season training. I didn't know it at the time, but that separation compromised the union. The next spring, I took my first crash, slapping the two bone ends together, shattering both ends, and sending one into my lung. At that point, I had health insurance, which is good because the splintering bone collision required surgery--a plate and eleven screws to create the union of the clavicle. I had the plate in for eighteen months, and then developed a strep bacteria infection around the hardware, and had the plate and screws removed.

    Aside from the lung puncture thing, having the plate in the clavicle was the most uncomfortable part of the whole process. However, now that the plate is gone, my clavicle is as large as my femur--almost indestructible. Five months after having the hardware removed, I feel great. After three years of dealing with the same stupid injury, caused by one stupid crash, resulting from myriad stupid decisions, I am finally able to ride my bike with aplomb.

    If it is an option, have the surgery to fuse the clavicle and ensure the union. Then, after a year, have it removed.

    If it is not an option due to finances, then you will be one more in the long list of stories illustrating the asinine state of health care in this the greatest nation-state in the history of the world.
     
  5. Hesh To Steel

    Hesh To Steel Monkey

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    I broke my clav into 3 pieces last may, and had about 2 CM of displacement so I needed to get surgery. I have a plate and 8 screws in there now. I've pretty much gotten full function back, but some things don't feel quite the same. I would like, some day, to get the plate removed, but right now that's not really financially feasible.


    I would say, to the OP, that you might want to do something about it. As mentioned by other posters, if you have a bad crash, there's (I would think) an increased risk of a fragment going into your lung since the pieces are already loose. On top of that, the collarbone is an important structural element of the shoulder girdle and I think I remember reading that in a lot of impacts, the absorption of force by the collarbone prevents more serious damage to other more important and harder to heal parts of the shoulder. Compared to other shoulder issues I think a clavicle injury, if treated properly from the outset, is relatively easy to recover from.
     
  6. mullet_dew

    mullet_dew Monkey

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    I broke my collar bone in half, the bones were overlapping and there were small pieces floating around so they recommended surgery(had insurance). I had 70% movement back in a few days and made a quick recovery. They left the plate in, because it is causing no medical problems i would have to pay for it to be removed. At this point, 2 years later the only time i notice it is when i put a shovel on my shoulder and it pinches my skin against the plate, other than that it is 100%. With good insurance i paid about 800 for initial ER visit and surgery, not too bad IMO.
     
  7. Leppah

    Leppah Turbo Monkey

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    Go with the surgery. It heals stronger and faster that way. I broke mine a few years ago snowboarding. The bones overlapped pretty bad. My doctor said i didn't need the surgery. Took my collarbone about 6 months to get to full strength. My friend broke his collarbone about three months after i broke mine and had the surgery. His healed quicker than mine. That pissed me off.
     
  8. HardtailHack

    HardtailHack used an iron once

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    OK cheers guys, I live in Australia so if it is decided I need an operation it will be done free of charge but I may have to wait a while.

    How long until you have a fully functional shoulder with the plated and screwed Clavicle?
     
  9. mullet_dew

    mullet_dew Monkey

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    The bones still need time to fuse with or without a plate, the plate just provides support so they can join without interruption(imagine trying to join two things together with glue when one keeps moving around while the glue sets.) Mine felt 100% a week after surgery, minus the swelling from the surgery itself but obviously it was just being held together with a plate and was still broken. I stayed off singletrack for a month i think, but riding on the road was fine.
     
  10. chillindrdude

    chillindrdude Turbo Monkey

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    get it plated and screwed. refrain from smoking or being in/around heavy 2nd hand smoke during healing.
     
  11. Hesh To Steel

    Hesh To Steel Monkey

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    I had my surgery on May 14th last year, had a subsequent surgery to clear up some issues with the surgical wound a couple of weeks later, and then started PT. I was back riding DH at the end of July.
     
  12. cecil

    cecil Turbo Monkey

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    with the voices in my head
    i passed on the surgery, broke it in 3 pcs on 1/25/09 and fell real hard at plattekill opening weekend 4 months later it held strong and still is
     
  13. HardtailHack

    HardtailHack used an iron once

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    Damn, that looks a bit wose than mine.
    Sorry for the poor pic my scanner is dead.

     
  14. cecil

    cecil Turbo Monkey

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    i went to my final follow up visit i had full range of motion back in my arm and head, but looking at the x ray there were still large gaps between the bone pcs.
     
  15. kamomatt

    kamomatt Chimp

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    Broke mine four times. It never really healed well I was told it was a nonunion fracture. The fracture just won't grow back together correctly. The bone stimulator (EBI) didn't work I think I used the EBI twice. The last time it broke I put the EBI on that day, it finally healed correctly huge glob of bone.

    I heard about some trail with injections not covered by insurance.
    With work my collar bone got sore impacts were the cause of the breaks.
    I'm a manual labor type job if it got sore I backed off. Let pain be your guide thats what my doctor told me. I never found any real help I think I just got lucky it finally healed.

    Good luck with it
     
  16. stgil888

    stgil888 Monkey

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    I broke my left clavicle summer 2005 and it did heal, but incorrectly. I had one procedure in December 2005 to re-shape the clavicle and remove a bony prominence that was causing soft-tissue damage. Come June 2009, I was still not happy with the results of the surgery. I had the bone cut, plated and screwed and had bone chips thrown in. Two weeks later it was feeling very stable. The hardware did hurt while it was in. I had it removed in May 2010 and it feels much better than it has at any time since 2005, before it ever broke. After all is said and done, it will probably cost me $25,000 for all the procedures, scans, anesthesia, and that's with "Cadillac" insurance. I wish I had gotten plated the day I broke it and avoided so many surgeries. Many doctors try to hold off on surgery for the general, inactive, non-bike-crashing population because of the general risks of any operation. Surgery is not safe, and things can go wrong, but in the end it worked out for me. I am going to hold off on riding for two months post-hardware removal to give the clavicle time to heal its holes, and then I hope to start riding again.
     
  17. stgil888

    stgil888 Monkey

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    I apologize for not providing a more direct response to the OP's original question. Yes, I put up with a sub-optimal clavicle on my non-dominant side for four years, and I would not recommend it. I avoided having it remodeled because of the cost and downtime. If I could do it again, I wouldn't have waited. You are doing the right thing by going to see a doctor, I'm glad no one had to make that recommendation.
     
  18. HardtailHack

    HardtailHack used an iron once

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    Looks like I might be a complete idiot, I think I'm mistaking the AC ligament for a fracture. I was originally told I had floating bone in there so I just assumed it must have been broken in two places and the gap at the end was a fracture.
    Guess that's why I'm not a doctor, I would like to know why my shoulder feels like **** though.
     
    #18 -   Jun 15, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2010
  19. good4nothing

    good4nothing Chimp

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    That's your AC joint, and I don't see any fractures in that film. Got any more pictures?

    I blew mine up at the beginning of may this year and had it plated immediately, but they dropped my lung while putting the plate on which bought me 3 extra days in the hospital, and sucked. Still, it's money now and i've been back riding on the road for 3 weeks and should be back on dirt in a 3-4 more.



    If you're young and prone to crashing into things, surgery is typically your best option, especially in cases of severe comminution (multiple fractures > free floating bone) and shortening (your clavicle is so broken that your shoulder pulls forward and in towards your chest). It sounds like you're not entirely sure it's still broken and it's not bothering you, but if either of these is true and you really do have non-union, consider getting it fixed sooner rather than later. While the clavicle supports the whole pectoral/shoulder muscle girdle in normal anatomy, which is nice, it more importantly to us acts as kind of a disposable shock absorber when you really blow yourself up. It breaks so that more important things don't. If the bone fragments are just floating around unhealed, subsequent crashes can majorly screw up the shoulder, as well as injure major nerves and blood vessels that run underneath the clavicle.
     
    #19 -   Jun 15, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2010
  20. chillindrdude

    chillindrdude Turbo Monkey

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    indeed, did they hafta put in a chest tube? did they find out the complication during or after surgery?
     
  21. Ithnu

    Ithnu Monkey

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    I broke mine last fall. The surgeon told me he read a study done with several thousand patients to compare surgery vs natural healing. He said that typically surgery takes a little longer to heal but in the long run those with plates maintained far more of their movement and proper shoulder geometry.

    I went with surgery. I followed his directions to the letter. After 1 month I could use it again, at 2 months I had my strength back. But I waited 3 months until I biked again. He said that despite having full strength at 2 months it was still weaker than normal for impacts.

    9 months later I don't notice it at all.
     
  22. good4nothing

    good4nothing Chimp

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    Yes to the chest tube, and they didn't catch it. I went home for the night, diagnosed myself, and showed up early the next morning at the ED with the lung down.
     
  23. HardtailHack

    HardtailHack used an iron once

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    OK so I had my full body scan today they said my collarbone definately isn't broken but it hasn't healed properly. They did find a small "trauma" in my shin that is probably the cause of my recurring cellulitis. So it looks like it is pretty much all good for me so I'll start applying for jobs.:thumb:
     
  24. spinner

    spinner Monkey

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    So if it hasn't healed properly , is there nothing they are prepared to do about it ? If you crash on that side again , will it break easily ?

    Just wondering because I think I'm in a similar situation. I need to get a refferal from my GP to get an appointment at the fracture clinic. Both are booked out for quite a while , so I won't know where I'm at for a few weeks , maybe a month.

    Cheers.
     
  25. HardtailHack

    HardtailHack used an iron once

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    Not 100% sure yet, I was told because of the overlapping bone and lack of complete healing there is a chance that is where my infection is starting, but it is more likely my shin. I didn't have much luck with the public hospitals fracture clinic, I was told to move my arm in a circle and was then told if there was no pain or restriction in movement it's probably OK, I took a day off work to get told that, let's say I wasn't happy.

    My collarbone will get sore if you press on where the original fracture was and it can still be a bit tender a day after doing so. This is part of the reason I was a bit worried something wasn't quite right. I also get muscular pain from shifting gears in my car if I am driving in traffic but I doubt I'll bother telling the doctor of these small problems until after I get a new job and some serious cash/holidays behind me.
    I'm racing this weekend and I have to race on a hardtail as my DH warranty frame is still coming, I'm so keen to race but I know I'll be sore for at least a couple of days as a fat bloke racing DH on a hardtail isn't the most graceful thing on the hill.
     
  26. HardtailHack

    HardtailHack used an iron once

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    I ended up going for a bone scan for my leg and didn't inform them of my previously fractured but they picked it anyways as apparently the bloodflow is acting as if it is stil broken/healing? Oh well it can stay as is.
    They also found a fractured rib which I think I broke a couple of months ago, I now have to go to an infectious diseases and immunology section at the local hospital to get my leg sorted as the bone scan showed up a hot spot where my pedals nicked the bone, all should be sorted in a week or two.:)
     
  27. Adam S.Royer

    Adam S.Royer Chimp

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    I broke my collar bone in two places. One was a full break which the bones flipped( the top bone is under the bottom part so when they come together it's not attached right. I also have a fracture above the broken phone. I am still at times going through some massive pain from here to there. I would like to have surgery but I do not have insurance knowing this will cost too much. The only time it hurts the most is when I sweep the floor or rake or use a shovel moving my arms from side to side. I have been to the emergency room several times and as of that case they have red flag me for painkillers. I do however have an orthopedic that is a friend of mine that I see when it is very well needed. Cuz sometimes I can't really stand it without some pain relief But as of the healing process I say it's somewhat healed but not healed the way it needs to be. So yes needless to say I do put up with it and I work because everybody needs to make a living just some days it's just so hard and the pain is unreal. Hopefully someday I can have surgery and have this issue fixed so I can go and enjoy a natural healthy happy life.