Although many collarbone, shoulder and upper arm area fractures, as well as fractures of the shoulder area, can be healed and repaired non-surgically, there are surgical options to treat these injuries.  New studies have shown that in many instances—especially in cases where the collarbone has been fractured—patients do better with surgical treatment to repair a fracture. Fracture fixation surgery consists of specially-designed plates and pins that are inserted and put in place to fix the broken collarbone or other nearby area that has suffered a break. Surgical fixation for a fracture promotes anatomic healing and allows the bone to heal in its original position. In more and more instances, this surgery has proven to provide a more predictable outcome in terms of shoulder motion and strength.

During the surgery, the patient is seated in a slanted chair and given a local anesthetic. A titanium plate will be used to bridge the fracture site and stabilize the fragments. Plate position is critical to ensure correct and comfortable post-operative healing. In addition, plate fixation allows earlier mobilization and rehabilitation. Once the surgery has been performed, the patient will be required to wear a sling for 6 weeks.

After Surgery

After fracture fixation surgery or clavicle fixation surgery, the bone will normally be healed within 2-3 months.  In almost all cases, the patient can return to daily activities. The most important element in the recovery process is to rest the injured bone and slowly regain full, painless, range of motion.

Remember these guidelines:

  • Apply ice to the incision site to help combat pain; protect your skin with a light cloth to avoid burning the skin.
  • Wear your sling or brace until Dr. Millett specifies that you can remove it. You may take off the sling to dress or bathe, but be careful not to move your arm.
  • For pain management, Dr. Millett can prescribe a pain medication.  Please take as prescribed and follow the precautions listed for the drug. You also may take over-the-counter medicines for pain.
  • Do not remove your sutures—they will disintegrate by themselves.  Follow the incision site care instructions that are given to you after your surgery.
  • If excessive pain, swelling, nausea, fever, numbness or trouble breathing takes place, please call our office immediately.

Rehabilitation Following Fracture Fixation Surgery

Dr. Millett has specific guidelines for patients who have undergone fracture fixation. These guidelines are broken down into various shoulder rehabilitation phases. Depending on the extent of your injury and surgery, the rehab guidelines may vary. These are simply protocols for all patients who have had fracture fixation surgery. Dr. Millett will provide these guidelines during pre-operative procedures.

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