Fractured Clavicle- How long does it take to heal?

If you watched the Green Bay Packers game yesterday you likely held your breath as you watched Quarterback Aaron Rodgers land very hard on his right shoulder and fracture his clavicle.

A clavicle (collarbone) fracture is a painful bone fracture that occurs from a high force by either a fall on an outstretched arm, fall on the shoulder, or direct hit to the clavicle.

The clavicle is an S shaped bone that connects the trunk of the body to the arm and is positioned right above the first rib. One on end, it attaches to the sternum or breastbone and the other end it connects to the scapula or shoulder blade.

Following the fracture, there is typically extreme pain and swelling over the clavicle and upper chest. There is often pain in the surrounding muscles and there is severe pain with any movement of the shoulder.

Following the diagnosis by X-ray, the shoulder is typically placed in a sling and surgical or conservative treatment is decided by the orthopedic physician.  Depending on the location of the fracture and the extent of the break, surgery may or may not be indicated.

Recovery time varies, but for adults after clavicle repair, 6 weeks of sling immobilization is the recommended initial treatment for healing.

After immobilization, the athlete starts to restore active motion and strength training with a goal of returning to their sport.

For the football athlete, rehabilitation has a strong focus on strengthening, closed kinetic chain strengthening (that is when the arm is essentially in a weight bearing or push up position), end ranges of motion, and ability to handle direct collision to the shoulder pain-free.

The general time frame back to competitive football is anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months depending on pain level, location of fracture, surgical intervention, and severity. Some articles have shown that surgical repair may take a few weeks longer to return to sport, however the chance for re-injury is less.

In Aaron Rogers’ case, Packers fans are crossing their fingers hoping for a quick recovery because Rogers is a key player to the team. It appears at this point, according to media, that Rodgers will likely miss the rest of the season based on extent of fracture.

For more information on how Physical Therapists help clavicle fractures, please contact us at .