Surgical v Non-Surgical approach to a Fractured Clavicle

Fractured clavicles, aka collar bones are mainly caused from excessive force placed on to an outstretched hand. These injuries are most commonly seen following an accident on your bike. In elite Cycling teams, these injuries are seen as the most common for time spent off the bike. There are two approaches to returning to the back following a fractured clavicle, Surgical versus Non-Surgical. Non-surgical Approach With a Non-Surgical Approach it takes a minimum of 6 weeks for a bone to re-unite. This is different in all cases as no two people are the same in any aspect. There are a number of factors that can influence healing rate or inhibit healing rates such as;
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Medical conditions such as Diabetes
  • Medications
  • Lifestyle factors
During this period depending on the location and type of fracture it is advisable that you remain in a simple sling for a period of time. Following successful healing of the clavicle you will need to undergo Physiotherapy to assist with improving your joint range and overall function. You will need to strengthen the muscles around your shoulder before returning on to the bike. Lastly be sure that you a directed by your Physiotherapist as to when you return on to the bike and how much riding you are able to do. Overall your total time spent away from riding is approx. 6-8 weeks. Surgical The second option to repair a fracture clavicle is surgical intervention. This requires the insertion of a plate and screws across the clavicle to assist with healing and provide extra strength across the bone. Once the scar is healed you can begin Physiotherapy to improve your range of movement at the shoulder joint and strengthen up the muscles around. Again be advised that the factors listed above in the Non-Surgical Approach can have the same affect when you opt for the surgical approach. You will be able to return to some gentle riding under the instructions of your Physiotherapist generally at the 2-3 week mark and progress slowly. Over time the bone will re-unite and the plate and screws will remain on the bone unless directed by the specialist or in the presence of pain. Therefore overall time spent off the bike is minimum 2-3 weeks.
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