Child care: How to deal with a broken collarbone

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The collarbone among children is usually broken most often. Even though a broken collarbone might indicate child neglect or abuse, it is commonly a result of the rowdy activities that toddlers engage in. Since young children might not be able to vocalize the pain they felt, being familiar with the symptoms of fracture can help recognize an injury.

The collarbone is described as a lengthy bone in the shoulder region that attaches the rib cage to the shoulder blade. The length of the bone makes it susceptible to damage close to the middle but some breaks can also occur in the area in which the bone connects to the scapula or rib cage.

What are the possible causes of a broken collarbone?

Always bear in mind that toddlers often end up with a broken collarbone if they fall down with extended arms to the ground. Falling directly on the tip or peak of the shoulder can also damage the collarbone.

The blood vessels and nerves below the collarbone are not usually damaged if the bone sustained trauma. Oftentimes, the bone will produce a popping sound once it breaks, but you will not know that it is broken until the toddler shows other symptoms.


Broken collarbone
Always bear in mind that toddlers often end up with a broken collarbone if they fall down with extended arms to the ground.

A toddler who does not move his/her arms or keeps his/her arm close to the side of the body might have a broken collarbone. If you will pick up the child under his/her arms and cries out or there is a lump, bruise or swelling in the area, there might be a break. The other symptoms include the following:

  • Inability of the child to lift his/her arm
  • Grinding sensation when attempting to raise the arm

After a few days, the collarbone might form a lump or callus where the break is healing. In case a toddler has not showed any symptoms, the callus is the only indication of a break.


The doctor will analyze a broken collarbone by asking questions on how the injury occurred, apply mild pressure on the area of the suspected fracture and request an X-ray.

The doctor will determine that none of the blood vessels or nerves endured any damage as well as determine the exact location of the break. In addition, the doctor will also check if the ends of the bone are displaced or not.


When it comes to a broken collarbone in which the ends are still lined up, the injury typically heals without requiring surgery. In such cases, the doctor will apply a sling or wrap in order to stabilize the affected arm along with pain medications if needed.

In case the ends of the bone are displaced, the doctor will insert plates and screws to realign the bone for proper healing. Once the injury has healed, the doctor will prescribe physical therapy in order to strengthen the shoulder that is weakened or hardened due to the use of a sling for an extended period.

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