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Clavicle fracture, not healing, surgery?

nonunioninnj2011-01-25 02:24:49 +0000 #1

I am not a cyclist (although I enjoy riding my bike around town and the tow path in my area) but have been trying to find good information on the topic of a broken collarbone and opinions/experiences with surgery- especially from women (haven't found much in the way of equestrian forums). So, if any of you would be willing to give me your opinions, I'd really appreciate it!

I am a 25 year old girl and was thrown from a horse onto my head September 20th- breaking my collarbone. I've been a jock my whole life- played softball in college, fly fish, surf, yoga, hike… all that stuff. I hate being still.

When I first got x-rayed it was a clean fracture in the middle section, by the next day is shifted and displaced, so the two bone ends were overlapping. Ortho put me in a figure of eight brace and kept taking followup x-rays. An xray at a little over 2 months showed although the bones haven't crisscrossed anymore, I have no signs of bone growth. Ortho now suggests bone stim, if bone stim doesn't work, surgery.

My issues are 1) although its not the horrible pain it was initially, i still wake up when I roll onto that side when I sleep, have a lessened range of motion, can't lift things, general pain to the giant lump on my bone, shoulder/back gets sore/tired when I'm too active. 2) hours at my job just got cut, and i'm not entirely sure the company will be in existence for too much longer, having me fearing loss of insurance in the next few months.

I got a second opinion today who said it would be entirely valid, at 2.5ish months out with no growth to opt for surgery.

My issues with bone stim route are mainly- cost of continued followup appts associated, the time span (cant start bone stim til Dec 21st, then i think its at least a month process), and also if the bone stim doesn't work- then I'm just at the surgery option anyway. Also, if my insurance is gone by then- I don't think I can pay for it out of pocket. I also know there are draw backs to the surgery, and have read some horror stories.

Has anyone had an experience with surgery? Do you think it was the wisest move? Issues with pins/plates etc? Or has anyone left a nonunion alone, and what are the drawbacks there?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this!

abejita2011-01-25 02:29:49 +0000 #2
I can't help with your broken bone situation, but I just wanted to welcome you to the forum. I know the fine ladies here will have some good opinions for you!
Kiwi Stoker2011-01-25 02:49:58 +0000 #3
I can see your issues and having broken a collarbone (clean and healed) and a shoulder (pinned and plated) feel your pain.

Talk to your doctor explaining the insurance thing. Getting a bone pinned is not a big issue and if done OK, can be left in for the rest of your life (most doctors won't take metal out unless it's causing issues or for religious reasons).

No, you don't set metal detectors off in an airport- there is not enough metal.

No you most often cannot feel plates or pins through your skin or muscles.

Yes, pinning does work, however of course it is surgery so there is risk.

In NZ I don't think bone stim is available, so it's always surgery. Sometimes I wonder if doctors often push new things too much. Get a third opinion if you feel you need to, but make sure you explain your situation about the insurance. Doctors should take into account people's financials as well in a treatment program.
jessmarimba2011-01-25 03:04:29 +0000 #4
My back is screwed together

I would like to thank your equestrian world for most of the information I found on the internet after my surgery!

Just a few more answers - I think the metal they use now is usually titanium and that doesn't set off airport metal detectors. You can feel mine through the skin, but it's at a very bony part of my back right on the backbone. They don't feel like screws, just a little extra bumpy.

Follow-up appointments for the first 90 days for me were covered under the same cost as the initial surgery. No copays, no anything. I don't know if that was my insurance or the policy of the surgical center, but it made my life a lot easier.

And I'd say at this point surgery and/or bone stim are definitely valid options. Do you know why it isn't re-growing (just placement issues or something else)? I ask because they can pin you back together, but if there is an issue with bone growth it may still not fuse. Are you around people who smoke often? What are you taking for pain? For some people, anything other than Tylenol can slow bone re-growth.

Good luck! And be careful, or we'll talk you into giving up horses and switching to bikes
Chicken Little2011-01-25 03:47:18 +0000 #5
"To cut is to heal"
Muirenn2011-01-25 04:14:28 +0000 #6
Definitely talk to that second opinion about the potential loss of insurance. $$ makes them move.

I spent almost an entire year on crutches 3 years ago while the doctors hemmed and hawed. One problem was that my insurance is very good (federal employee) and the follow-up appointments were big $$$ to those idiots. Ended up having to go to the medical university through the VA and get it done. Which they did fairly quickly. (I'm a veteran).

In my experience, they drag it out as long as possible. (Same thing happened with back surgery 10 years ago. Ended up having to fly out-of-state). Find an agressive surgeon and get it over with so you can get on with your life. Of course, changing doctors makes it take longer too. So try to stay with the one who recommended surgery.

I definitely feel for you. I was learning equestrian right before I re-injured my knee and had to give it up. (Didn't hurt it on the horse). By the time I was well enough to start again my teacher (and my, er, 'her' lovely horse!) transferred to another state. She was also government.

Good luck and hang in there!

Welcome to the forum
NbyNW2011-01-25 03:31:22 +0000 #7
If it were me, I think it would probably be a good idea to start treatment with the insurance you have now, than risk a new insurance plan deciding not to pay at all if they classify your injury as a pre-existing condition. (I honestly have no idea what they would do, but just throwing that out there as a possibility).

This is a good time to educate yourself as to whether you will have the possibility of extending your insurance when/if your job goes away, what that will cost, or whether there is an affordable option to purchase your own health insurance. Get the information you need in order to plan ahead. is a good place to look for insurance quotes.



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