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broken collarbone/clavicle advice

etack2010-12-12 04:31:41 +0000 #1
Hi, all. I recently broke my clavicle (collarbone) and thought I might share here what I wish I had known when the accident happened.

1. You will meet a lot of people who also broke their collarbone. Nearly all of them will have done it as a young person. Young people break their collarbones a lot because the bone is still soft until about age 20. Their experience has little relevance to you. Nod and sympathize with them and feel their bump if they offer, but the only people whose outcomes you care about are people of similar age who broke their collarbone recently, within a couple of years.

2. Doctors will tell you to let it heal on its own. This has been the standard course of treatment. They will tell you 90% of collarbones heal on their own. My doctor portrayed surgery as extreme and risky. I would like to know if 90% of PEOPLE MY AGE heal on their own. Probably not because most injuries are to children. I am 45 and it did not heal on its own. I wish I had considered surgery much earlier (I waited 6 weeks).

3. I know it's scary to think about but do your research on surgery. Breaking your clavicle shortens the length of it, which results in skeletal and muscular problems down the road, not to mention range of motion issues. Look in the mirror. Are you lopsided? Surgery restores the clavicle to its original length. There have been advances with the technology. The plates are contoured now.

4. I am very glad I had surgery. Get a good surgeon.

5. You will be very concerned about when you can start doing things again. People will tell you Lance Armstrong was back on his bike in a couple of weeks (blah blah). At first I was counting weeks, but then I realized this is going to take a long time and I need to start enjoying the moment. To do that, I need to stop obsessing about my return to the saddle. Recovery is slow and hard. You should not ride a bike with a broken bone. Even if it is plated, it is still broken. I had to tell my friends to stop encouraging me to get on a bike! Please accept that I am walking now and enjoying it. For you readers who want to know how long it has taken me to be able to do this, do that, I am no longer counting. Surgery was 3 weeks ago and I still can't raise my arm. My last x-ray was a week ago and it was too early for any change. I start physical therapy next week. My riding season may be over. I'm okay with that. I will ride again. For now, I walk.

6. I learned this very late, too: you cannot raise your arm when standing, but for some strange reason, you can bend at the waist and let your arms dangle. SO... if you want to shave your underarms, or put your hair in a ponytail, or put a shirt over your head, try bending at the waist and "raising" your arms that way.

7. Take calcium, and best of luck to you.


indigoiis2010-12-12 04:43:08 +0000 #2
Thanks for the advice.

I broke my ankle a few weeks ago, and although I have not had to have surgery, I recognize a lot of the same frustration in realizing recovery takes a lot longer than one might at first suppose.
oz rider2010-12-12 05:01:50 +0000 #3
Glad to hear you're on the mend, if somewhat belatedly. Given your calcium suggestion, sounds like there some osteoporosis?

I know two elite guys locally had their clavicles pinned and raced the following weekend, but I find many doctors treat mature women far more conservatively.

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