Pain in the collarbone, or clavicle, may be caused by a variety of different things and symptoms vary. The pain may range from minor to severe and is treated based on the cause. Continue reading to learn what may be causing your collarbone pain, additional symptoms you should look out for, and what potential complications may arise, as well as treatment and home remedies to help relieve clavicle pain.
Your collarbone may be broken after sustaining trauma due to a fall, car accident, or sports injury, but how long does it take for this break to heal? Unfortunately, broken collarbones can take several months to heal, and movement of the shoulder near the affected area can cause pain and swelling.
While most broken collarbones will heal fairly easily without any surgical intervention, in some cases, the process may be slow and painful. If this is the case, an appointment with your orthopedic surgeon may be a good idea to ensure that the bone is healing as it should. On average, a broken collarbone can take anywhere from 6–16 weeks to fully heal, as without the ability to truly immobilize the area, healing cannot be expedited like it would with a cast on a broken arm.
Some symptoms that often accompany clavicle pain include swelling, redness, pain with breathing or arm movements, restricted range of motion, bruising, numbness or tingling of the shoulder, and a grating sound when the shoulder is moved.
Clavicle pain may be the result of a variety of issues that can affect the clavicle, shoulders, and muscles. Some of the most common causes are:
Trauma: Injury to the collarbone due to a blow or fall sustained during sports or in an accident can cause pain in the collarbone and surrounding tissue.
Fractures: Fractures may occur because of trauma and require the use of a sling while the bone heals. Fractures are extremely painful and may be either simple or compound, depending on whether the break affects the surrounding tissue and organs.
Muscle strain: While not caused by the collarbone itself, straining the muscle and soft tissue around the clavicle through heavy lifting, or causing inflammation of the surrounding tendons through repetitive movement, can result in pain felt near the collarbone.
Joint inflammation: The inflammation or wear and tear on the joints surrounding the collarbone can cause arthritis that results in collarbone pain.
Sternoclavicular joint dislocation: The sternoclavicular joint is the joint located between the sternum and clavicles. It may become dislocated during contact sports and cause severe pain.
Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain that can occur in the collarbone and is often accompanied by fatigue, sleep disorders, issues with mood, and memory problems.
When clavicle pain is left untreated, it may result in chronic pain and potentially ulcers over the bone that can get infected, leading to further issues.
Seeing a doctor is always the best course of action if you are experiencing collarbone pain, though some simple ways to ease your discomfort at home do exist. Using a clavicle brace can help to keep your collarbone stationary and reduce pain and inflammation. Similarly, using a sling can also help to immobilize the area. Icing the affected area can also help to reduce your body’s inflammatory response that causes pain. You can also take over-the-counter pain medications to ease pain and discomfort, though this should be done with your doctor’s approval.
Along with icing the inflamed area, using a cayenne pepper warming oil may help reduce the inflammation and pain in a natural way. Similarly, ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties are useful for treating clavicle pain due to arthritis. Finally, rest is perhaps the easiest treatment for your pain as it avoids further aggravating the injury.
To prevent injuring yourself or worsening your collarbone pain, be sure to avoid straining the affected arm and avoid activities that require excessive movement that can jostle the clavicle. Try to sleep on your back to relieve your shoulders of pressure, and keep good posture when walking, standing, and sitting.
Clavicle pain can vary from minor to severe depending on its cause and may be accompanied by symptoms like stiffness, brushing, swelling, and redness. To treat this pain, it is best to see your doctor, though a combination of rest, ice, immobilization, and painkillers may be used to ease your discomfort. Maintaining good posture and avoiding strenuous activity may help your clavicle heal faster and prevent further irritation.