Broken Collar Bone (Clavicle Fracture)

Definition of Broken Collar Bone

A clavicle fracture is a break in the clavicle bone also called the collarbone. It connects the sternum (breastplate) to the shoulder. The clavicle can fracture in three different places Middle third—the middle portion of the clavicle, which is the most common site for a clavicle fracture, Distal third—the end of the clavicle connecting to the shoulder, Medial third—the end of the clavicle connecting to the sternum. Cause of Broken Collar Bone: A clavicle fracture is caused by trauma to the clavicle bone. The trauma is usually caused by either a direct blow to the clavicle or falling on an outstretched arm or on the point of the shoulder. Either of these can be common football injuries.


Treatment Options of Broken Collar Bone

The decision for surgical versus conservative management is complex and based on a number of factors, including patient expectations, demands, the severity of injury, fracture pattern, and associated injuries. This decision must be individualized after an extensive discussion between the athlete and physician, with a full understanding of the risks and benefits of each treatment plan. If the broken collar bone is minimally displaced with good apposition of the ends of the bones, non-operative treatment may be pursued. Previous studies have reported relatively good results with minimally displaced fractures of the middle-third of the clavicle without significant shortening. If the broken collar bone is treated non-operatively, it usually involves using a simple sling for shoulder comfort and immobilization.


Return To Play Time Frames

Multiple factors determine an athlete’s return to unrestricted sport participation after broken collar bone. Return to sports depends on complete bone healing and full, pain-free recovery of shoulder strength and motion. Physicians counseling an athlete on return to sports must take into consideration different level of physical demand associated with each sport. Athletes returning to contact or overhead sports such as football will need more time before they can return to the unrestricted play than the athletes returning to non-contact sports. Most physicians recommend that an athlete with a broken clavicle use a sling for 2 to 6 weeks with both non-operative or operative treatment based on the athlete’s individual comfort level. During this time, the athlete is not recommended to lift using the affected arm is encouraged to move the elbow and the wrist. Athletes can commence assisted, gentle range of motion when they become pain-free and stop using the sling, usually by 4 to 6 weeks. Overhead activities can begin after clinical and radiographic findings confirm bone healing. Return to unrestricted sport activities is generally recommended 4 to 6 weeks after the complete healing, typically by 3 months after the injury or surgical fixation.


Athletic Limitations Upon Return to Play

Most athletes can ultimately expect a full return to sport participation without any consequences after their fracture has healed with satisfactory alignment. If the athlete returns to football prior to full recovery, he runs the risk of re-injuring himself. Please note, the athlete will be wearing a sling with limited mobility for 4-6 weeks after the injury and will have limited ability to workout or practice. Shoulder strengthening exercises will also be required to gain back lost muscle and flexibility.


Overall Fantasy Prognosis for Broken Collar Bone

A professional football player will be out for at least 10-12 weeks with a clavicle fracture. If the injury happens at the beginning of training camp, he might be back for the second half of the season. If it happens after the season is under please consider other player options. More details of Broken Collar Bone can be found at this link Following is a video of a Sports Medicine Doctors discussing Broken Collar Bone in NFL Football Players and the considerations for Fantasy Sports.



  • Rockwood and Green’s Fractures in Adults. Edited by: Bucholz, Robert W.; Heckman, James D.; Court-Brown, Charles M.; Tornetta, Paul. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 7th ed. 2009.
  • Khan LA, Bradnock TJ, Scott C, Robinson CM. Fractures of the clavicle. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2009 Feb;91(2):447-60.
  • Jeray KJ. Acute midshaft clavicular fractures. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2007 Apr;15(4):239-48.
  • Canadian Orthopaedic Trauma Society. Nonoperative treatment compared with plate fixation of displaced midshaft clavicular fractures. A multicenter, randomized clinical trial. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2007 Jan;89(1):1-10.

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