Jock Doc

Do you always need surgery for a collarbone fracture?

In this file photo, U.S. rider Tyler Hamilton, riding with a fractured collarbone, foreground, and Haimar Zubeldia of Spain, strain in the final ascent towards L’Alpe d’Huez during the 8th stage of the Tour de France cycling race, Sunday, July 13, 2003.
In this file photo, U.S. rider Tyler Hamilton, riding with a fractured collarbone, foreground, and Haimar Zubeldia of Spain, strain in the final ascent towards L’Alpe d’Huez during the 8th stage of the Tour de France cycling race, Sunday, July 13, 2003. AP

Q. I am a 20-year-old female college student who last week broke my collarbone when I was tackled playing rugby. I was given a sling at the emergency room and then went to an orthopedic surgeon who said the fractured bone was out of place and that I needed surgery to fix it. An online site said that collar bone fractures can heal well without surgery. Is this true and can I avoid surgery?

A. Fractures of the collarbone, also known as the clavicle, are very common in rugby, football and cycling.

There are several factors that determine if surgery is your best option for you to regain normal function. These factors include the location of the fracture on the clavicle, whether the fracture is in multiple pieces, and the degree of the displacement of the fractured bone ends.

Simple fractures that are only mildly displaced, mildly shortened, and not tenting the skin may be best treated with a sling and non-surgical treatment. For the more severe injuries, surgery with a metal plate and screws may be your best option.

You may want to discuss your concerns with your surgeon or get a second 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

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