I’ve done both sides, twice. All racing. The orthopaedic surgeon and I get along great!
Every break is different. Every recovery is different. I’ve just dragged out my FAQ I send people who ask… Some of it won’t be relevant if you’re not in Melbourne, Australia. I’ll leave it in because I’m too lazy to remove it. Anyhow, here it is:
*Disclaimer. I’m no expert, I’m just very well experienced with all things collarbone, radiology, and recovery.
My surgeon: Martin Richardson - One of the best around for the job. He’s either operated or overseen my four collarbone breaks.
His consulting rooms are at Epworth Richmond. He works from either there or Epworth Box Hill.
Now, for general collarbone advice:
Surgery is safe, quick, and gets you mobile immediately. Scaring is minimal, next to invisible if you really look after the healing. My wife (Von) looked after hers, can hardly see the mark. I didn’t care too much and was always on the indoor trainer within two days working up a sweat under my bandages, so my scars didn’t get the best chance of healing. Plus they tell a good story, or two, or four!
Every break is different, so the solution is different too.
- A pin is used if it is a clean break in the middle (the pin stays in).
- A top plate and screws are used if it is little more complicated than a break in the middle (the plate/screws can be removed later, optional).
- A hook plate (the worst of the three options!) is used if the break is a distal fracture and displaced quite a bit. These hooks are nasty, will limit movement of the shoulder, and do have to come out.
Google image searching the three surgery methods will show the differences between them.
“Natural healing” is, in my opinion, the last option. Only good when the break isn’t displaced very much, or is a distal break held together by the tendons in the area. If the break is displaced and they want to ‘wait for it to heal’ the patient will have to put up with pain, the feeling of the bone clicking around for a week or two, and very very very limited movement. This makes for terrible sleeping, showering, life in general. If the bone does knit itself without surgery, there will be a lump/bump on the clavicle.
My most recent break was operated on a Friday and I was racing on the following Wednesday. Not recommended, but shows the difference between ‘natural healing’ vs getting back on with normal life.
Basic health insurance cover is fine with Martin’s work. His admin staff will check the level of cover and always strive to ensure the costs are minimal. My health insurance doesn’t cover overnight so they’re always getting me in at 6am for a same day discharge. They’re really great people!
A good sling is a must. Orthopaedics Victoria have excellent ones with velcro. Request one! They’re ace.
Training/fitness wise. If pinned/plated, ergo sessions within a day or so. Best medicine for any injury I believe.
Hot tip on the strong pain killers - get laxatives. Lactulose is awesome. You’ll literally shit bricks if not, and that is worse than any broken bone!