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  • Clavicle collar bone non union – experiences
  • Premier Icon minusnothing
    Free Member

    Want some real world experiences please from bikers not just people in white coats.

    Four months ago I had an ‘off’ onto my left shoulder and broke the last inch or so off the end of my sexy collar-bone.

    Four months later the bone is still not healed. Range of motion is coming back (90%) due to physio but it still hurts like a censored and no outdoor bike action ATM!

    Anyone experienced a non-union? Did you get surgery in the end?

    Did any of you just leave it – does the pain get better (weeks/months/years)?

    I don’t want an op if I know it will eventually settle down, but right now it no longer feels sexy in there…

    What are the implications of another ‘off’ on the same shoulder and existing break in the future,

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Sounds familiar!

    I broke my collarbone at the shoulder end (‘distal’). Apparently this takes longer to heal.

    I’m pretty sure it took 4 months before the first shadow of new bone growth, and since then it has only gotten stronger. There some odd pains here and there which had me worried, and for a time there felt like there was something loose moving about at the back of the break, but it seems to have all come good, I’ve fallen on it a couple of times since and it’s been fine.

    Surgery is apparently no picnic and having had surgery recently on my back and having to put up with the rehab for that, I’m now of a mind that anything you can do to avoid surgery is possibly best.

    Premier Icon beaker
    Full Member

    I broke mine all the way back in ‘97. Healed as a non union with a lovey lump. I’ve been the the hospital twice to look at a break an reset and both times the quack has said it’s best left. The reason being the risk of further damage to the nerves and the risk of making things worse. I have good but not perfect function, I’m not really able to press up on it and sleeping on the side of the break is uncomfortable as well. It’s not perfect but it’ll do, your case may be different- only you can make that call.

    Premier Icon jimw
    Free Member

    I had a non union 9 years ago, 18 months in had a plate put in as it was becoming increasingly unstable. I was told by the specialist that many people cope with a non union for the rest of their lives but if it starts interfering with day to day life then it may be worth having surgery. As you have been told this should not be undertaken lightly. On balance I am glad that I had it done, but I don’t have much sensation in the skin round the wound and it does ache at times but at least I can use hand and machine tools and ride my bike, if s little more carefully than I used to.

    Premier Icon redmex
    Free Member

    Eight years ago over the bars broke mine, twice at hospital for the op but no bed available each day so I still have a gap where the bone broke. No pain at all, 20 press ups out of puff maybe. The consultant had me in 6 months later to show junior docs surgery not always required

    Premier Icon boblo
    Free Member

    I had a standard break/triangular bandage/6 weeks fix followed by a little lie down a year later and it popped again. I had it plated, a DVT and 12 years later it’s fine. I can’t sleep on my front but all the nerve damage has recovered.

    I was back on the road bike in a week and started a 4 month tour 4 weeks after surgery.

    I wouldn’t hesitate to go for the surgery again despite the rather exciting DVT/Heparin/Warfarin incident.

    Premier Icon robgclarkson
    Free Member

    This was me Dec 17… it’s still the same, been told 4 times to just leave it. I have full range of motion but doing things like push ups or any ‘shoulder’ work hurts… I have a nice lump on my shoulder too. Cold weather seems to hurt too… and my lad holding my hand and swinging about like a maniac, instead of walking like a human child seem to affect it too… the last one maybe a bit specific!

    Premier Icon nickname
    Free Member

    What are the implications of another ‘off’ on the same shoulder and existing break in the future,

    I think about this quite a lot myself – it certainly does slow me down, but maybe that’s just me getting old.

    Mine did heal (it wasn’t a non-union), but it did leave a massive bump, which I kinda like now.

    I did hear/read that collarbones and broken bones in general come back stronger – not sure if there’s any real evidence of this 😉

    I tested this theory twice anyhow since my repairs, didn’t break anything again, so it’s all good.

    Note, the 2nd post-collarbone break I fell on my elbow – this is an elbow with a metal plate and screws in, and that bloody hurt like crazy…

    I would suspect any fall on a metal plate anywhere is going to hurt, since there’s not much meat between the screw-head and the concrete. Wouldn’t recommend doing this 🙂

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    This was me Dec 17…

    That’s a different thing, robgclarkson. That’s an AC joint tear AKA separated shoulder. Also bad news but for different reasons – it looks like you’ve done an impressive job there, anyway. Well done.

    Premier Icon robgclarkson
    Free Member

    Roger… and yes, you’re right… misread/got all giddy at the thought of sharing my pic 😳👍🏻

    Premier Icon oreetmon
    Free Member

    Good few years ago,

    An OTB left my CB in 3 pieces with a sharp pointy bit sticking up causing me excruciating pain, so called ‘specialist’ said it will heal eventually.

    6 months later I had a check up with a different specialist and had a plate installed a few days later due to non union. Glad I did as researching the injury it seems that it can cause a lot of problems in later life (back pain, posture etc)

    Lost a lot of muscular mass and getting back to normal was hard. Stuck to the rehab exercise but still only have about 80% range.

    Don’t really notice It now but occasionally it ‘twangs’ in cold weather, not nice at all.

    Keep meaning to get a little DH bike tattooed above the scar 😁

    Premier Icon H1ghland3r
    Free Member

    Broke my right clavicle about 4 years ago now, started with a sports physio the day after, 4 months later at the orthopeadic appointment I was told there is no sign of bone growth and I would have to have surgery if ther was no improvement in another 6 weeks and I should keep it in the sling until then.  Wife and I complained that with the physio I had good strength, good range of motion and little pain.

    The head of orthopeadics got involved at that point, asked me to whip my arm out of the sling.. she lifted it straight up to the side up to my head asking if i had any pain, i didn’t other than some stiffness. A bit more poking and prodding and she proclaimed it a fibrous non-union and i could get back to my life, ditch the sling. If I have any painmake another appointment and they’ll talk about surgical options.

    I haven’t had any issues at all other than the lump, if my my youngest jumps on my back and throws his arms around my shoulders it’s a bit sore but apart from that it’s completely fine.

    The dept. head did mention that if I was to do it again it would be far less serious as the non-union would give before the bone broke again (healed breaks tend to be stronger than regular bone and so force a break further up or down the bone).

    Doesn’t really help you though I guess as you are still having pain.

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Also I had read that jockeys (who apparently break collarbones a lot) tend to prefer a non-union as it is more fibrous and offers a little give before the bone breaks. My consultant explained it as thick scar tissue which may eventually ‘ossify’ and turn to bone, or may not, and I think it’s difficult to know which will occur (although I had read about the ‘Wolfson’ technique which boiled down to doing more jogging and running as the micro-impacts travelling through the bone and body encourage bone growth, similar to the bone density theory which explains why pro-cyclists have bird bones!)

    Premier Icon homerun
    Free Member

    After repeated fractures both mine are non union fractures. As above my consultant said the bones stabilise by being held together by a fibrous tissue, the “Periosteum”. Or at least thats what I think he called it. Both shoulders work ok with full movement, although lifting heavy weights causes a bit of discomfort and I’m a bit more cautious about trauma. I did tear through the Periosteum once and it was very similar to actually breaking the bone again 🙁

    Premier Icon globalti
    Free Member

    Yes I broke mine in August 2018. The sawbones took the standard laissez-faire attitude to plating and told me to wait and see. I endured three miserable months of non-union and then an x-ray showed the two ends were far apart with no chance of joining so I got it plated in November ’18. I also had a bonus frozen shoulder, for which I had a capsular release op last April. That has definitely caused more problems than the clavicle and even now, a year later, the shoulder is still clonky and clunky and uncomfortable. It’s difficult to rebuild muscle at my age but I feel I’m slowly getting there, thanks to lots of DIY recently tarting up the house for sale.

    Premier Icon minusnothing
    Free Member

    Absolutely excellent replies people.


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