Shoulder > Collarbone Fracture > Treatments

    Sling or Brace

Home Recovery

Most collarbone fractures can be treated without surgery, as a sling or a figure-eight splint helps pull the shoulder back and align the collarbone. Adults generally need to keep the injured shoulder immobilized for four to six weeks, while children under 12 may need three to four weeks. Rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen or aspirin can ease pain and swelling. Here is what you can expect and how you can cope with a sling immobilizing your shoulder:

   The first concern is to monitor swelling for the first 48 hours while wearing your sling. Physicians generally prescribe ice packs to be applied for 20 minutes at a time, three or four times a day.

   If the swelling has decreased after three days, you may be able to apply heat to help reduce pain. You should not apply heat to swollen areas because heat increases blood flow to the skin, which can prolong the healing process.

   You can remove the sling for brief periods to shower, but remember to avoid moving your injured shoulder. Almost all shoulder injuries heal better when the shoulder is immobilized.

   When your shoulder starts to heal, your physician may recommend that you remove the sling for short periods to perform some light, early-motion exercises.

   You should move your fingers and hands in the sling as much as possible to help circulate blood.

   If you develop a rash or irritated skin around your sling, call your physician.

   If you notice any abnormal wear or discomfort, contact your physician as early as possible. In general, do not try to "grin and bear it" if discomfort does not go away within a few days.

The sling may make it difficult to use the hand of the injured shoulder. Some people may need to take time off from work after a collarbone fracture, depending on how much they rely on the immobilized hand.


You may be able to begin light shoulder exercises, as tolerated, after about three weeks of immobilization of your collarbone fracture. After about two or three weeks of immobilization, your physician usually refers you to a physical therapist to begin light rehabilitation exercises. The first stage of physical therapy usually involves exercises designed to strengthen your wrist and elbow by flexing and extending your hand and arm with your shoulder held in place. Because your arm has been held across your chest for weeks, rotating or turning the shoulder outward may be painful when rehab begins.


   Shoulder stretching exercises

   Shoulder strengthening exercises

Sling or Brace
   Home Recovery
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation

Copyright 2007 | Insall Scott Kelly® Institute. All Rights Reserved.