What Is Clavicle Dislocation?

The clavicle, also called the collar bone, connects the shoulder to the sternum.
A human skeleton, including the clavicles in red.
A radiograph can show whether a clavicle bone is dislocated.
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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Clavicle dislocation is the dislocation of the clavicle bone, more commonly known as the collar bone. Dislocation can occur in a number of ways, many involving some sort of impact. Symptoms of clavicle dislocation include varying degrees of pain and the inability to move one's neck and/or arm. Treatment depends on the severity of the dislocation; bone fracture along with muscle tearing may have occurred at the moment of dislocation. X-rays and physical examination are necessary before a physician can recommend appropriate treatment.

The body contains two clavicle bones just below one's shoulders. The purpose of the bone is to connect the scapula to the sternum, the latter more commonly known as the breastbone. Clavicle dislocation occurs when one or both of the clavicle bones comes out of the socket that holds it in place. Sports injuries are the most common causes of dislocation, though other accidents such as car crashes can have the same affect.

Symptoms of clavicle dislocation can be extremely painful, especially if the dislocation involves bone fracture or tearing of the muscle/tendon. Besides pain, an individual may experience a decreased ability to move his or her arms and neck. Dislocation can also be indicated by physical deformation where the clavicle is out of place.

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As clavicle dislocation is a common injury, physicians have classified it into six types depending on the severity of the injury. A type one injury is the least severe, and though dislocation occurs, the bone remains intact and there is no damage to the surrounding muscle tissue and tendons. As the severity of the injury increases, a physician classifies it as types two to six. Types one to three require immobilization such as a sling as the clavicle heals. Types four to six generally require corrective surgery.

Classifying clavicle dislocation requires both x-rays and a physical examination. Analyzing this information allows a physician to determine what type of dislocation is present. A physician will go over the results and discuss treatment options with the patient. Any patient who requires surgery may have to wait a few days before the surgery takes place. A physician may prescribe painkillers to keep the patient comfortable until the surgery date.

Surgery to correct clavicle dislocation is minimally invasive. In certain cases, surgeons can use arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery uses very little cutting and reduces recovery time. No matter what technique a surgeon uses, recovery time is at least eight weeks. Physical therapy is a part of every recovery. Patients generally reacquire the range of motion they had before dislocation.

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