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How to repair a broken clavicle

August 2nd, 2014 · 12 Comments

I’m all set for Tuesday mid-day surgery. How come it’s always nothing to eat or drink after midnight, whether your surgery is at 6:00am or 4:00pm? They are obviously trying to have one simple set of instructions instead of trusting people to be able to calculate time differences.

So here’s what’s going to happen. First, a sample xray of a similar break to mine (I don’t have my own xrays for any of these so I found some similar ones on the web)


You have to imagine that you’re seeing this from behind, since it’s my right shoulder. This is similar to the xray I saw in the surgeon’s office. There is no way these bones are going to grow back together, and even if they did it would be a strange non-functional arrangement!

Here’s a picture of a similar plate that gets screwed into the bones after they are lined up:

And here’s an xray taken after someone has had the procedure done, and I hope what mine looks like in a few days:


There is an alternative procedure that is sometimes done that involves drilling out the center of the bones and inserting a metal rod, similar to what Dale has in his leg. It can sometimes be done arthroscopically, which is a lot less invasive and leaves much smaller scars. My procedure will involve an incision longer than the plate, but fortunately there are no muscles and very little tissue to be cut, as you can tell by feeling of your own collar bone — it is right under the skin. One problem with the “intermedullary” rod approach is that the round rod does not prevent the bones from rotating before they set. Also, the rod is usually removed after the bone has set, involving more surgery. All things considered the plate approach is still the predominant method and the one my doctor chose for me. The doctor did tell me that the plate is not made of adamantium, so I won’t be like the Wolverine.

I’m still hurting much more from the broken rib than the shoulder. Since they are on opposite sides, I’m feeling pretty crippled. Two nights ago Gisele had to help me out of bed so I could go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I’ve discovered a method of sliding out of bed onto my butt on the floor and standing up from there, so at least I am able to get up by myself. But it hurts and I’ll be glad when the rib heals. I’m probably going to go through a very unpleasant few days right after surgery when both sides will be very painful. I hope I don’t get addicted to the pain pills…

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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Donna // Aug 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    That’s very interesting, but I’m sure glad it’s not me. (Sorry!!) Take the pain pills as needed because being more comfortable will help your healing.

  • 2 Mom // Aug 2, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Yes, take the pills, and then we will make you quit taking the pills when it doesn’t hurt so much. First and foremost right now is “Get a little relief” and I do mean a ‘little’. One break at a time is enough for most people, but NO, you had to hurt both sides. I can’t empathize, but I have had broken ribs, and that hurt awfully; I’m sorry.

  • 3 Richard // Aug 2, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Not a fun time, that’s for sure. Any idea how long the recovery time will be?

  • 4 Don // Aug 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    This should be interesting the next time you fly. Although I guess there are millions of people with metal in them going through the checkpoints.

    I understand completely about the ribs being the most painful of the 2. When I had mine I had to sleep in a chair for a couple of weeks.

    The interesting thing I noticed was I could actually feel mine when the broken ends rubbed against each other and it would REALLY hurt once in a while when they would get caught and move when I would stand up.

    Then one morning I woke up and they no longer moved. It was quite sudden.

  • 5 Daryl // Aug 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    4 weeks in a sling. Up to 12 weeks to return to sports.

  • 6 Daryl // Aug 2, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Don, — Yes! I sometimes feel the ends slip or snap past each other too. Though it’s possible the I tore the cartilage between ribs and I feel one rib sliding past another.
    That’s not the most painful though. Coughing or trying to use the chest muscles over that area is the worst.

  • 7 Daryl // Aug 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Oh, and Dale has more metal in his leg than I do in my shoulder and he has never been stopped.

  • 8 Richard // Aug 2, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    And the metal disc in my back does not set off metal detectors either, but it and the rod in Dale’s leg are much deeper inside us than your plate will be. I guess you’ll find out. They may give you a card to carry like I have, that explains what and why.

  • 9 Dianna // Aug 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Sure hope everything went according to plan today and that the ribs are better, but after reading about Don’s I guess that may not happen for awhile.

  • 10 Richard // Aug 6, 2014 at 7:35 am

    How are you doing?

  • 11 Daryl // Aug 6, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Surgery went well. No pain yet. Total nerve block right arm, motor and sensory, arm like numb wet noodle. Slept well I think.

    More when I can type better.

  • 12 Donna // Aug 6, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I heard from Daryl this afternoon that the nerve block has worn off and he is really feeling it. Two strong RX pain pills are just “taking the edge off”.

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