Broken clavicle – operate or not?

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  • Broken clavicle – operate or not?
  • Have you seen the X-rays? If you have a copy can you post it here?

    I did mine (and a few other bones) in May last year and have some first hand (untrained) knowledge of some stuff (operate v not and different types of plate etc)


    Premier Icon Kryton57

    If it was needed, you wouldn’t have a choice. If you like six weeks of agony after you bones are drilled and pinned/plated, are happy to wake up screaming when the meds wear off, go for it.

    I wasn’t given a choice (bone fragment near the top if my lung) but I was given a choice for the reverse op to take it out guess what, it’s still in.

    Let it heal by itself if you have the chance – plating is only a temp measure to hold the bones in place while they fuse anyway.

    I disagree with some of that


    Just broken my clavicle, doc has offered me the option of plating it. Anybody got any experiences to help me make up my mind?

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin

    10 years ago I was offered an op and said no.
    Lots of physio building up local muscle control and strength until my broken shoulder could outperform my good one.
    Have a massive lump but no regrets.

    Premier Icon darrell

    this is what the surgeon said to me when i broke mine

    “If you were a topless model or a professional sportsman then I would operate. You are not either. It will heal fine but look s**t. Live with it”

    Rob Hilton

    If it was needed, you wouldn’t have a choice.

    Took 8 weeks of shit Doctors to not sort mine & a referral to a physio who said it clearly needed plating to get mine done – the 1st time.

    The second time I insisted on having it done, but due to where the break was it wasn’t a goer and they also wanted to leave it for ages to see what happened even though I gave a pretty good rant about my previous experience 🙂

    I’d get it done.

    wake up screaming when the meds wear off

    Unfortunately all too true, but I’d still get it done. Had my plate out due to it (I think) contracting in Winter and causing pain, but delayed it for a year because of the norty voice at the back of my mind telling me they’d give me some ace drugs again! When the voice went I was ready to be smacked up :mrgreen:


    I saw the xrays but havent got them, doc said that both breaks are fairly well lined up so operating is not a necessity, not bothered about the cosmetic appearance, just want to get it healed and back on the bike with minimum fuss.

    Premier Icon paladin

    I broke mine in 2 places 8 weeks ago. Apparently alignment is OK so doc decided to give it a chance to heal itself. 5 weeks in a sling now I’m slowly getting movement back, but not allowed to lift anything until we’ve seen the xray in 4 weeks time.
    I’m not too bothered about the lump sticking out, although I’m unsure how comfy I’ll be with a breathing apparatus set hanging on my shoulders…
    Physio mentioned they can shave bits of bone off if needs be though.

    Rob Hilton

    There is, of course, black magic:

    They’ve got a good rep for fixing people up and I’d give it a go if it happens again.

    Premier Icon paladin

    I had ultrasound therapy when I broke my scaphoid, it did their trick 🙂


    Did the consultant explain why you had a choice? If the bones are close together, I wouldn’t bother. It will heal stronger and be less likely to break next time – which is why they like to remove the plate.

    Mine took four months to heal properly and I have a couple of small bumps. I’m not a topless model – too ginger 😆


    mine was in 5 or 6 large pieces plus some shrapnel so was forced into the operation. A friend has not has his operated on and is recovering faster than I did. Mine felt much less stable than his did at the time of the injury. So to some up; I have no idea.


    Even with a fairly bad collar bone break it’ll heal well and be as good as new if you treat it right.

    The crucial stage is from day one to around ten to fourteen days. During the later part of this period you’ll get what’s known as a ‘fibrous union’. After that it’s just a hardening off process.

    So, for the first couple of weeks do very little, rest and give it a chance. After that, assuming no complications, you can start turbo sessions. Pretty soon after, around the three week mark, that you can go for gentle rides (think, roadie towpath style). But, if you fall of and land on it you’ll **** it good so be careful.

    By six weeks you’ll be back riding normal – but be careful, make it progressive. After two months, it’s fixed, and it’ll never break in the same place again.

    All the above assumes that you are normal healthy sort of geezer.

    There are those that say that you aren’t a proper cyclist until you’ve broken a collar bone.

    I ain’t no doctor
    ain’t no doctors son

    I broke my right clavicle twelve years ago after a particularly nasty incident involving me being catapulted into the side of a hill at great speed. A visit to the fracture clinic had me speaking to an ‘expert’ who informed me that if I let it heal naturally it would recover to 90% of its original strength or have it pinned down and plated and have 95% of the strength back. I left it and let it heal naturally but still get grief from it now; I suspect I always will and it will no doubt give me even more problems as I get older. I don’t believe having the operation would have been a great advantage – I still have all the upper body strength of weak kitten as it is, an extra 5% would have been matterless to me.


    Get a copy of your x rays and email them over to rob h’s phy clinic. They sorted me out a treat. And get pro motor bikers from Poland visit them for treatment. Highly recommended


    Short answer – if reasonably aligned, not short and you are not an elite athlete high chance if healing without surgery.

    Long answer – widely debated amongst ortho pods and still an area of controversy. The North American clavicle trial which many decisions are based on has flaws like many surgical trials.

    There is no right or wrong answer. If you leave it alone the worst that can happen is it doesn’t heal….


    I have posted before on this subject. The shortened version is:
    I broke my clavicle nearly four years ago. Was told by non specialist it was healing . Eighteen months ago I started to get a lot of pain. Had another x-ray, complete non union. Advised by specialist to have plate put in, but as the injury was 2 1/2 years old, took over a year to heal, had 3 months off work ( use hand tools, right handed, right clavicle) If It had been done immediately, would have saved hassle.

    Premier Icon Prophet2

    Broke my collar bone two and a half years ago, high velocity break is what it was called. I wasn’t offered an op, it was left to heal naturally. Which it did, ugly bump now on my shoulder, I use it as a reminder not to get too cocky on a bike.

    If you do let it heal by itself my advice would be to do nought with it for six weeks, don’t get ahead of yourself thinking it is healing nicely. It was eight weeks until I got back on my commuter, 12 before I started back on a mtb. It will seem like a long time off the bike but I haven’t had any issues with the collar bone and I have had a few offs that the shoulder has taken the full brunt of.

    Hope you heal well, it isn’t a nice injury to nurse.


    Mine was an “X” shape on the X-ray.
    French said “non”
    Highly reccommended private consultant said “oui – certainment”
    I have a 6″ titanium plate now with full movement, correct alignment, and a cool scar!

    On the other hand, the broken schaphoid was a PITA, and 3 months with it in a cast left it weak, and only now can I really do press-ups on it.

    I would say I was pretty much pain free after the op, with plenty of meds that I self-weaned off of.

    Premier Icon steveh

    Another vote for the physio clinic huys down in norfolk. They’ve sorted me out before. When I went with a collar bone broken in to 3 pieces a week after the event i walked out 2 hours later with less pain and much improved movement. I was back on the bike 3 weeks in, proper mtb 5 weeks in without any problems.

    I was sceptical of what they do but the results were amazing.


    Plate with hook here, my clavicle was displaced in three places and almost compound though. If the doc is offering then there must be a reason.

    Don’t mention scaphoids, my saga lasted almost three years, now fixed with Ti screw, can’t imagine doing press ups for a while, what a shame 😉


    Cheers guys,.

    Surgeon that saw me likes doing the op amd offerred to do ithis afternoon, but did say that as it was nicely aligned that the only benefit would be a week less recovery and if it was him he’d let it heal without the plate. Managing the pain with paracetamol/ibruprufen and codine tonight, but i’m not anticipating much sleep.

    Seeing the surgeon again on Thursday for another xray to check progress and will make a decision then.

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago

    Don’t mention scaphoids/quote]

    Scaphoids are different due to their slightly tenuous blood supply, and resulting risk of avascular necrosis.

    Premier Icon ewangronk

    I would say operate. I’ve done mine three times now 😳 The first break I had operated on a week after and couldn’t believe the immediate difference.Full use of arm right away again and back on the road bike a couple weeks later. Got the plate removed then 6 months later broke the same one again. Bone was probably still weak and break was much less painful. Had it operated on within a few days and this time with the intention of keeping the plate in on advice from my surgeon he put in a much longer plate which covers most of the bone.
    A few months later I break the other side in a Race again just to even things up (I know skills course required!). Had a long plate put in that one too and raced in a CX race 3 weeks after the op.
    I’ve seen guys who leave it to heal and they’re still struggling on months later with arm strength and lack of movement due to having to keep a sling on so long. I would say the benefits of an op are more than just a week or so recovery. If you want back on the bike soon I would say go for it.


    I have a friend who is a pretty senior doctor, he advised me to push for the op when I did mine. Recovery is faster and if you climb or do anything similar the long term outcomes are better.

    I don’t recognise what krypton is going on about at all, it was not painful post op and definately got me back riding quicker.


    I broke my collar bone 7 weeks ago really close to the shoulder joint. X-ray this week showed it had not healed. The consultant wants to leave it another 6 weeks to see if will heal so I have not been offered surgery yet. I can’t help but think if they had operated in the first place I could be back on my bike by now!

    Mine healed badly and started causing minor internal injuries, so I got it plated.

    My thoughts are that if it’s a clean(ish) break I’d let it heal. If it’s looking messy in there, get it plated.

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