What Are the Main Causes of Clavicle Pain?

A human skeleton, including the clavicles in red.
A radiograph can show fractures in the collarbone.
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  • Written By: Caitlin Shih
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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Clavicle pain may refer to any pain in or perceived to be in the collarbone area. In the majority of cases, clavicle pain is rooted in clavicle fractures, which can have many causes. Other cases of clavicle pain may be, more specifically, caused by indirect pain from an injury to something other than the clavicle. The acromioclavicular joint near the clavicle may be torn or otherwise damaged, referring pain back to the clavicle, and this damage can be either physical in nature or caused by arthritis. In other cases, shoulder damage is sometimes expressed as clavicle pain, and in more serious cases, osteomyelitis may infect the clavicle or shoulder area.

Clavicle fracture is by far the most common cause of clavicle pain, usually from some sort of hard physical blow or extended stress upon the collarbone. Individuals may experience bruising, swelling, and additional shoulder pain. It is possible to feel many fractures underneath the skin after swelling has gone down. Clavicle fractures are usually easily diagnosed through x-ray, and most patients should be able to recover well with rest and proper treatment. In most cases, the pain will subside after a few weeks in addition to physician-prescribed painkillers, and a full recovery is usually expected within 12 weeks, rarely requiring surgery.

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Referred clavicle pain may come from an injury to areas near the collarbone. Shoulder injuries as well as injuries to the muscle surrounding the collarbone all fall under this category, and these root problems will need to be treated first. Additionally, the joint between the collarbone and shoulder blade, the acromioclavicular joint, can become dislocated under forceful impact. It is also susceptible to becoming torn or damaged, and individuals with this type of injury will usually experience clavicle and shoulder pain, both when moving the arm as well as when not moving because of the weight of the rest of the arm. Apart from physical injury, the acromioclavicular joint is also susceptible to arthritis. In these cases, the arthritis must be treated in order for the clavicle pain to subside.

In more severe cases, clavicle pain may be the symptom of a more serious medical condition. Osteomyelitis refers to an infection of the bone marrow. In adults, it is most likely to occur as a result of some sort of injury that is severe enough to expose the bone to infection, and, especially for those involved in sports, this type of injury can occur in the collarbone. Osteomyelitis may also be the secondary result of another primary disease, such as syphilis, fungal infections, or tuberculosis.

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Discuss this Article

shell4life
Post 4

I got hit by a small child with a baseball bat right in the clavicle while babysitting. This kid just had a violent streak, and when he hit me, I fell to the floor in pain.

He bruised the area pretty badly. He hit me on one side of it, so I had right clavicle pain for weeks.

Nothing was broken, but the area was still sore and tender for a couple of months afterward. I had a bruise that made me look like I was in an abusive relationship, so I wore only blouses with high necklines until it disappeared.

StarJo
Post 3

@wavy58 – Clavicle pain is a symptom of fibromyalgia. If you have been having pain all over your body as well, then you might just have this condition.

My mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year. She had been having unexplained pain all over her body, and she didn't like to be touched, because it hurt. Her doctor pushed on several points along her clavicle and asked her if it hurt, and she said that it did.

People with fibromyalgia have these tender spots along their collarbones for some reason. It's one way that doctors are able to diagnose this.

wavy58
Post 2

I've been having some strange collarbone pain for a few years now. It isn't constant, and I only feel it when I touch my clavicle and the area right under it.

If I put my hand under my clavicle, I can feel that the area is very sore. It's so tender to the touch, but there are no bruises, and I haven't had any physical trauma to that area.

Does anyone know what might be causing this? It's kind of a strange place for pain, especially since I haven't injured the area.

seag47
Post 1

My dad dislocated his acromioclavicular joint in a fall, and he had pain all the way from his clavicle to his back. Of course, the pain he felt upon impact was so severe that it all ran together, and he couldn't pinpoint exactly where it originated, though he did know that his shoulder hurt badly.

He had to wear a sling and undergo physical therapy. He spent weeks taking pain killers, because every time he would move his arm even a little, he would feel pain in his clavicle, his shoulder, and his back.

It's hard to believe that he made a full recovery within six months. I think that physical therapy and rest served him well, because he now has full use of his arm and shoulder.

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