collarboneThe collarbone is located in the upper part of the chest near the neck and Is also referred to as the clavicle.  You can get a dislocation of the collar bone where it connects to the
sternum (breastbone) or to the acromion, which is part of the clavicle.

This is a very common injury that can be due to a car accident or sports injury.  Dislocations of the clavicle from the acromion (an AC joint dislocation) are much more common than a dislocation of the collar bone from the sternum (also called an SC dislocation).

As mentioned, car accidents can cause a collarbone dislocation.  The dislocation can also be caused by a fall, a sporting accident, or any type of blunt force trauma to the area of the shoulder, which is where the acromioclavicular joint is located.  The clavicle can break or the ligaments holding the clavicle and the acromion can be disrupted, resulting in a collar bone dislocation at that site.

Treatment of a Dislocated Collarbone

Most dislocated collarbone treatments do not require surgery.  There are a lot of nerves and blood vessels in this area that can be damaged so surgery is often avoided in favor of more conservative measures that don’t involve surgery.

The doctor can attempt to push the collarbone back into place so that the bones are aligned in their proper position.  This involves manual manipulation of the clavicle, usually under some type of anesthesia or sedation in order to relieve the pain.  A clavicle brace is then applied to keep the clavicle in its proper position until the ligaments heal.  This can take up to six weeks for maximal healing.

Sometimes conservative measures fail and the individual suffers from chronic instability to the acromioclavicular joint.  This leads to chronic pain and arthritis of the joint that can interfere with a person’s quality of life.  When the joint becomes arthritic, there are few treatments that work besides taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or doing surgery on the joint.

Non steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs can decrease the inflammation and pain around the dislocated shoulder.  This can include takin ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or taking naproxen sodium (Aleve or Naprosyn).  The doctor can also prescribe prescription pain relievers to decrease the pain if the over the counter remedies do not work.  In severe cases, narcotics are used to ease the arthritic joint but, as these are addictive, they are only used in severe cases and only for brief periods of time.

Always talk to a doctor before taking any medication.

Sling

A sling can be used in cases of collarbone dislocation.  The sling takes the weight of the arm off the acromioclavicular joint.  It can also promote healing by preventing movement about the joint so the ligaments have a better chance of healing.

Surgery

Surgery may be necessary first if the clavicle is pushed inward from the acromion.  During surgery, the clavicle is pulled out from its posterior position and then the sling is applied to keep the clavicle from moving very much.  This allows for healing of the ligaments and the reduction of arthritis.

An orthopedist can also do surgery on the joint if there is a lot of arthritis in the joint.  The surgery can repair the ligaments that have become damaged in the injury or can remove the joint altogether.  In such cases, the joint is affected by arthritis and the pain can be relieved by simply removing the joint.

Ice Pack

An ice pack can be used to the collarbone dislocation for the first 48 to 72 hours following the dislocation. The ice can reduce the inflammation involved in a collar bone dislocation.  Ice can be applied for 30 minutes at a time, using a cloth or covering so the ice does not freeze the skin.