We have two collarbones each positioned at the front of either shoulder. A sharp blow to the shoulder area can result in one or both collarbones breaking.

Our collarbones connect at the sternum (breast bone) and the shoulder blade via joints and muscles. They are important in stabilising the shoulder during movement and protecting blood vessels and underlying nerves. Their consistancy is comparative to a rib which can heal in around ten days. 

If you break your collarbone, in most cases there will be pain often excruciating pain as the broken bone touches down onto the nerve bed. You can expect to feel uncomfortable for 2-4 weeks. Swelling and tenderness at the collarbone area is a good indication of a break and it is common to feel crunching as the broken ends shift and touch eachother. Purple bruising will appear after several days and may spread across the shoulder to the arm.

Most people with this injury will not be able to lift their arm. It is important to keep the injured side elbow close-in to the body to avoid rotation at the fracture site. Any rotation can prolong healing leading to non-union [failure of the bone to join together], it may also result in the bone knitting together in a contorted fashion (malunion). The latter leading to muscle malfunction and future shoulder complications.

Pain can be excruciating. If you need to take pain medication avoid Ibuprofen as this inhibits new bone formation. Use paracetamol instead.