Collarbone recovery questions


New Member
Hi all,
I broke my left collarbone in a crash two days
ago...have to wait another 3 days to see an ortho. The ER said I had closed displaced fracture, but they seemed to think I wouldn't need surgery, that there were no deformities or anything. I was discharged with a sling and some basic instructions. l'm curious what the recovery was like? Right now it hurts but that's obvious.

Here are some questions I have if anyone can help since i'm stressed out while Iwait to talk to a doc:

1) It says 6-8 weeks to heal ...does that mean fullyhealed, like I can go about my normal physical activity? Or is that just for the bone itself to "fuse" back
2) Is surgery common for displaced fractures? The ER didn't seem to think it was severe enough, but you read a lot of different things
3) About how many days should I expect before I can move the arm a little at all..IE when it gets easier to put a shirt on, which right now is difficult
4) Can I worsen the fracture by moving my arm? I I haven't taken it out of the sling other than to shower soI'm doing the best I can, but the arm still moves here and there (typing, just natural turns)...the pain isn't any different during these motions

Anyway thanks in advance for any help or experience you can provide.


Legendary Member


Legendary Member
Thanks to Vickster for the heads-up. I broke mine on 18 August and more recently I started this thread on collar bones where you can see my own account and that of two other members of CC:

You've got plenty of time so reading those threads wil keep you busy for a while. My strong advice to you is to INSIST on having the collar bone plated for a quick and complete recovery. It's one bone that you can't plaster so you have to either plate it or leave it in the hope that it will mend itself. For that to happen the broken ends have to be in contact for long enough to form a clot of blood, which becomes a callus, which then becomes new bone. My bone ends were so far apart (having buried themselves in the surrounding tissue) that they never met. The doctors make their decisions on the basis of statistics and the statistic is that something like 85% will mend themselves but the statistic doesn't tell you how many heal straight and how many with a kink or a lump or with your shoulder shortened and your armpit permanently squashed shut and sweaty. Look on the collar bone as doing the same job as a supension strut in a car and you'll get the idea - it locates the complex shoulder joint in the right position. Of course doctors want to avoid the risk of anaesthesia and infection through surgery so they quite correctly hope the bone will heal without intervention.

When you see the orthopedic consultant you need to discuss the likelihood of the bone not meeting and healing and set a date, by which you can have a follow-up x-ray to check progress and make the important decision. If you are in the US they will probably agree to do it straight away. The longer you leave it the more the broken ends will round off and go to sleep and the harder it is for the surgeon to wake them up and re-start the healing process. Mine was plated after 3 months of misery and the surgeon had to roughen the bone ends and cut them straight then pack synthetic bone graft into the gap to promote blood circulation and formation of new bone.

The second reason why you might need it plating is so as to allow you to get the shoulder joint moving to prevent adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, which results from the trauma or from inaction. You can find lots on the web about it but it's all basically the same stuff as there isn't much to say about it. I got plated in December then had time for the bone to heal until 10 April when the surgeon carried out a capsular release op on my shoulder and I'm pleased to report that my shoulder is settling down and gaining strength and movement after two months of painful physio and exercises. I'm back on the bike although 30 miles / 2 hours is my limit at the moment.

So in specific answer to your questions:

6-8 weeks to heal if you're lucky and the bone ends settle in a good opposed position and you're young. You could equally have a non-union or form a pseudo-joint, which is basically a soft gristle joint. Lots do and many carry on a normal life with non-union or a pseudo-joint. The muscles of the shoulder can stabilise the whole setup without needing the clavicle to hold everything in place.

Surgery isn't that common - at least here in the UK - for the reason I've explained.

Once the pain diminishes you need to be doing gentle movements to try to keep the shoulder moving but it will continue to hurt for quite a few weeks yet, especially if not plated.

No, you can't worsen the fracture but if the bone begins to join you could cause the ends to separate and you hear penty of stories of this happening. This is why you need a good sling that holds the arm in the correct position, not the poxy tape sling they give you in British hospitals.

Once again my strong advice is to push for plating and get it all out of the way as soon as possible and get back onto the road to recovery. Orthopedic surgeons are notoriously bullish and blustering so you will need to take a firm line with yours. Always take somebody along with you to back you up and to remember stuff you won't hear because your brain wll be digesting the latest information the surgeon has just delivered to you. If the surgeon won't agree to operate now, be firm in establishing a date for a follow-up x-ray and a decision on plating. Or find another surgeon.

On pain relief there is evidence that ibuprofen inhibits bone repair by preventing the inflammation and bleeding that is needed to form a new joint so I stayed off it after I had had my plate fitted. I used paracetamol, which is a very good drug if you use it correctly, which means keeping the level topped up. Take 1 gm every 5-6 hours and keep a pencil and paper by the bed for notes so that you don't lose track of times.

You will be feeling miserable and full of doubt but take comfort from the knowledge that millions have gone before you and recovered and you have now joined the pantheon of cyclists who have broken a collar bone! Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss more.
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Legendary Member
Are you in the US? I guess your health insurance status may have a bearing if and when you have surgery....And the character of surgeons quite probably

Also, paracetamol as @Globalti mentions is acetaminophen aka Tylenol
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Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
I dislocated mine so not an identical scenario. The suggestion at the time was that it MAY take longer to heal than a break. This wasn’t the case and it healed super quick. When I broke two ribs and my sternum, they told me it would be quick. Again this wasn’t the case and my ribs were sore for months. I guess each case is unique.

Either way I hope you mend quickly and without pain.


When I broke mine a few years ago, I was advised 8 weeks to heal. In reality I was on a bike using a turbo training after 2 weeks, and riding irl after 8 weeks, I did continue to have discomfort in the shoulder for about 3 months. Mine healed naturally as the break was too close to the joint at the shoulder to plate.


Legendary Member
Does anybody else find it a wee bit irritating when they take quite a long time to bang out a reply with two fingers, edit and correct it and the OP doesn't bother even ackowledging the effort?

Just me? Okay I'll shut up then.


Puzzle game developer
Does anybody else find it a wee bit irritating when they take quite a long time to bang out a reply with two fingers, edit and correct it and the OP doesn't bother even ackowledging the effort?

Just me? Okay I'll shut up then.
Yes! (Although I have had the full use of my typing fingers when typing unappreciated posts!)

From time to time I get disheartened by the lack of responses to some of the rides that I try to organise. I have made posts which were viewed hundreds of times without even one person replying, for example, "Looks good, but I am busy that day, maybe next time?"
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Does anybody else find it a wee bit irritating when they take quite a long time to bang out a reply with two fingers, edit and correct it and the OP doesn't bother even ackowledging the effort?

Just me? Okay I'll shut up then.
He doesn’t appear to have been back since he posted.
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