Symptoms, Treatment, and Workers’ Compensation Options for a Broken Clavicles
The clavicle (collarbone) is one of two long, thin bones that connect the breastbone (sternum) to the shoulder blade (scapula). These bones serve as supportive braces that essentially connect your arms to your body. These bones aren’t given much thought on a day-to-day basis. However, when injured, these bones can have a surprisingly long effect on the victim’s ability to move, work, and function properly.
If you fall or a heavy object lands on your shoulder, your collarbone could potentially break. A trip to the emergency room and an x-ray will confirm the injury’s severity. However, if you experience the following symptoms, the likelihood of a severe injury is pretty high.
- Inability to move your arm. Lifting your arm is impossible without extreme pain, swelling, or unnerving grinding sensation of the shoulder or collarbone area.
- Deformity where the break occurs. A fracture could cause excessive swelling as well as the protrusion of a dislocated bone. A complete break can cause the arm to slump forward and dangle as it is no longer supported by the clavicle.
If you have any of these symptoms after a collarbone impact collision or fall, it’s important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. In addition to getting the treatment you need, a documented medical visit can help provide proof of the incident and severity for any workers’ compensation (WC) claims, if the injury occurred at work).
Due to its position, a collarbone cannot be put in a cast or splint like a broken arm or leg. Therefore, treatment must adapt depending on the severity of the fracture—the more severe the break, the more invasive the treatment. The following options can be expected:
- Arm slings. A figure-of-eight brace or a simple arm sling can keep your arm in position while the clavicle heals. The sling or brace is typically applied immediately after the fracture occurs for comfort and stability.
- Physical therapy. Because your arm must remain immobile while it heals, the muscles can atrophy. When your bone heals, your doctor may suggest that you visit a physical therapist in order to build strength back in your shoulder.
- Medication. Pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to increase comfort and reduce swelling.
- Surgery. If your collarbone is out of place from the fracture, you may need surgery to help it heal properly. Stabilizing surgeries often include implanting metal pins, plates, or screws.
No matter which treatment you receive, it is sure to be costly. In addition to the expense of your recovery choice, you’ll also have to visit your doctor frequently and pay for routine physical therapy. All of these can dig through your savings quickly, especially when your recovery prohibits you from working.
Missed Work and Further Complications
A fractured collarbone can cause you to miss weeks—even months—of work. This is particularly true if you lose the use of your arm. In some cases, even once the bone has fused back together, complications of the break can cause sporadic or perpetual ongoing pain and discomfort. These complications can include:
- Bone infections. If a piece of your bone punctured your skin, germs and bacteria can enter your body and can cause an infection. You’ll need to receive treatment immediately if this type of fracture occurs.
- Lumps in the bone. Lumps often form during the healing process where the bones come together. Although some lumps disappear over time, some stay permanently. And because the lump is so close to the skin, it’s easy to see.
- Poor healing. Collarbones that are severely broken may not heal completely. As a result, poor union of the bones during healing can cause the bone to become shorter than it was before the break.
- Nerve or blood vessel injury. Jagged bone ends near the break can injure the blood vessel or nerves around the clavicle. Signs of issues include numbness or tingling in your hand or arm. Contact medical help immediately if that occurs.
Stability and Support
When an injury forces you to lose your financial stability, paying for your recovery and supporting your family can quickly become impossible. Fortunately, this is where workers’ compensation comes into play. WC benefits may be available to cover injury expenses and lost wages to help you stabilize your finances and recovery.
If you have questions about pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or have already been denied your rightful benefits, contact attorney Steve Lee today. Our legal team can provide you with the resources and guidance to build an effective claim. Your employer or insurance company may try to strong-arm you into accepting less than you’re owed; don’t let them. Instead, allow us to give you strong-handed support by filling out this online form or calling 800-232-3711 to schedule your FREE consultation.