Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Clavicle Fractures: What You Should Know


Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jan 1;77(1):71.

  See related article on clavicle fractures.

What is a clavicle fracture?

The clavicle, or collarbone, is the bone that runs from your shoulder to your breastbone. A clavicle fracture is a crack or break in this bone. It can happen if you fall on your shoulder or hit directly on the bone.

How is it treated?

You may need to wear an arm sling for several weeks to stop your arm from pulling on the broken bone. The sling rests on the opposite shoulder and supports the weight of your arm on the injured side. Sometimes a “figure-of-eight” dressing is used. This pulls your shoulders back to make sure the bone heals in the right position. If the injury is more serious, you may need surgery.

How long does it take to heal?

Clavicle fractures usually take about six weeks to heal. You may need to avoid contact sports for longer than this. But you can start using your arm again as soon as you have less pain (usually in about two to three weeks). Starting physical therapy a few weeks after the injury may help it to heal.

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Nov 2021

Access the latest issue of American Family Physician

Read the Issue

Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article