On both sides of your sternum, you have a collarbone. Officially known as clavicles, these collarbones connect your ribcage to your shoulders. Because of where your car’s seatbelt crosses your midsection, it is possible to break a collarbone during a motor vehicle accident.
Collarbone breaks are an exceedingly common injury, as the clavicles absorb forces from the arms and shoulders. While many collarbone breaks heal on their own without significant medical intervention, your break may lead to potentially catastrophic complications.
What are the symptoms of a broken collarbone?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a broken collarbone often comes with excruciating pain. In addition to the discomfort you feel, you may have one or more of these symptoms:
- Swelling or inflammation
- Difficulty lifting your arm
- A bump on your collarbone
- A grinding sound when you move your shoulder
Even though a broken collarbone may heal eventually, you should treat the injury as a medical emergency. When you visit the emergency room, doctors may prescribe pain relievers, ask you to wear a sling or even schedule physical therapy. Your primary care physician can then monitor you for possible complications.
What complications may you experience?
It is not uncommon for broken collarbones to heal unevenly. If you have a serious break or a compound fracture, though, your bones may not be able to fuse back together. Consequently, you may require surgery, where doctors attempt to implant plates, screws or other pieces of hardware.
Even if you do not need surgery, you may develop osteoarthritis later in life. Ultimately, by pursuing financial compensation from the driver who caused the accident, you may have a better chance of obtaining the medical care you need to recover completely.