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Healthwise: Treating Fractured Collarbones

September 29, 2010

There’s a new treatment for a common injury. We're talking about a "clavicle fracture" or a "fractured collarbone." It's the bone that connects your arm to the rest of your body.

“It really can happen to any of us, but it's a common athletic injury, and also a common injury with car accidents,” said Dr. Matthew Panzarella, Orthopedic Surgeon, Atlantic Coast Orthopedics Specialists.

With high school football season in full swing, many people often associate a clavicle fracture with the sport. However, Doctor Matthew Panzarella says the number one cause of these injuries is far from the playing field.

“I think trauma is probably the biggest thing. Car accidents - that includes any kind of ATV accident - where you're going over the handle bars,” said Panzarella.

So, what do you do when you get this kind of injury? If this were 20 years ago, you wouldn’t do much.

“They use to never fix these. You would only fix it if you had nerve damage to your arm or the bone was sticking out through the skin,” said Panzarella.

Now there's a new treatment. Orthopedic surgeons like Panzarella are implanting plates onto the collarbone.

“They give more stability. Gets people moving a little quicker and hopefully prevents what we call non-union where the two ends of the bone don't knit back together,” said Panzarella.

Once the bone is completely healed Doctor Panzarella says it takes about a full year to get back to normal. By that point, the collarbone is like brand new.

Doctor Panzarella says there is no one thing in particular that can stop the collar bone from breaking. He recommends people get enough calcium to keep their bones strong.

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