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Broken Collarbone Experiences

GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
edited June 2013 in The cake stop
I was fortunate to be taken down in a race on Sunday, so after 55 miles I didn't have to do the last 50m or collect any points or prize money. And I get to choose a new bike, which I get to pay for too. And I've lost a couple of hunderd grams of flash, so I'll be even faster next time.

Unfortunately I broke my collar bone too. At the hospital I got conflicting advice regarding how long recovery would take, everthing from 6 weeks to 6 months. If you have suffered such an unpleasantness, how long did your recovery take and, other than putting it in a sling, did you get any other advice that helped?

Cheers

Posts

  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,386
    6 weeks of subsiding pain in a sling with painkillers.

    Nothing much else to add to that.

    Sympathies. :cry:
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • Yellow PerilYellow Peril Posts: 4,466
    condolences, I look forward to your re-incarnation as ColnagoMike
    @JaunePeril

    Winner of the Bike Radar Pro Race Wiggins Hour Prediction Competition
  • rhextrhext Posts: 1,639
    Same as Daviesee: the first few days were horrendous, but the pain subsided quickly after that. Not sure it took the full 6 weeks, but on the other hand it wasn't a particularly serious break.
  • xdocxdoc Posts: 331
    Depends a lot on the nature of the break. Some will heal fairly quickly with just a sling others will take longer. Bad breaks sometimes require fixing with a metal plate and screws which ironically may actually lead to a quicker 'recovery'. .
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    Mine is a clean break, and I can get the bones to align by moving my elbow, but am confused how it actually joins up if it's wanging around all the time. My sling doesn't seem solid enough to keep my arm still and the Doc didn't seem concerned. I am!!
  • vitesse169vitesse169 Posts: 420
    GiantMike wrote:
    Mine is a clean break, and I can get the bones to align by moving my elbow, but am confused how it actually joins up if it's wanging around all the time. My sling doesn't seem solid enough to keep my arm still and the Doc didn't seem concerned. I am!!

    Sounds like time for a second opinnion....
    I had mine fixed by way of the 'tightrope procedure'. As the break was angular thru the bone, they were drilled and a post put thru which was anchored with catgut to the scapula. The surgeon was one of the few exponents of the technique, it meant that moving about and sleeping was much easier from the get go. I now have v close to 100% movement of the shoulder. I found a description of the op on a med website, interesting reading...
  • AlanWAlanW Posts: 291
    I hope that you do better than me, I broke my left one in a road race. Then six weeks later I got taken out by a dog running out in front of me and I went down again and broke the other side!!

    However, on the plus side at least both sides match now. :oops:
    "You only need two tools: WD40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape"
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    vitesse169 wrote:
    Sounds like time for a second opinion....
    I had mine fixed by way of the 'tightrope procedure'. As the break was angular thru the bone, they were drilled and a post put thru which was anchored with catgut to the scapula. The surgeon was one of the few exponents of the technique, it meant that moving about and sleeping was much easier from the get go. I now have v close to 100% movement of the shoulder. I found a description of the op on a med website, interesting reading...

    I'm seeing my GP on Friday for a second opinion. I won't name the hospital, but I didn't get the impression they knew what they were doing, or at least weren't able to convince me they did. Maybe I just expected too much but the message I got was "it'll heal, sod off" so I was interested to see whether others had a painless recovery.
  • protoproto Posts: 1,482
    Broke mine after riding my motorcycle into a ditch. Landed on my shoulder, bruise about the size of a dinner plate, and a broken collar bone (plus a broken spine).

    Treatment for collar bone was to keep it in a sling and take pain killers. Only a week after the break the physios were insistent that i kept the shoulder moving, raising my hand as high above my head as i could. The pain was truly terrible but they said better to suffer that than a 'frozen shoulder', which I was told is very bad news indeed.

    Healed well enough, bit of a funny shape and a lump at one end. Has never caused me any problems, unlike the broken spine. :(
  • BenvolioBenvolio Posts: 5
    It does vary a lot depending on the type of break. Check out the recent topic

    viewtopic.php?f=40013&t=12921289

    Hope you have a quick recovery
  • vitesse169vitesse169 Posts: 420
    GiantMike wrote:
    vitesse169 wrote:
    Sounds like time for a second opinion....
    I had mine fixed by way of the 'tightrope procedure'. As the break was angular thru the bone, they were drilled and a post put thru which was anchored with catgut to the scapula. The surgeon was one of the few exponents of the technique, it meant that moving about and sleeping was much easier from the get go. I now have v close to 100% movement of the shoulder. I found a description of the op on a med website, interesting reading...

    I'm seeing my GP on Friday for a second opinion. I won't name the hospital, but I didn't get the impression they knew what they were doing, or at least weren't able to convince me they did. Maybe I just expected too much but the message I got was "it'll heal, sod off" so I was interested to see whether others had a painless recovery.

    I'll name and shame - did mine on an MTB race in Bordon, Hants, got taken to Frimley park hosp... they said "sling, and it'll be ok".... like bloody hell !!!! Got back home and went to GRH at Glos where I was told it wouldn't heal in a month of sundays as it was displaced and needed surgery....!
    Still got the X rays to remind me....
  • disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
    I broke mine about 6 years ago now in a road race. I spent a very uncomfortable 2 weeks of not being able to sleep in a bed or do much of anything with the arm, but found I was back on the Turbo after 4 weeks, back on the road after 6 and back racing a week after that.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    Yes, i ve broken my right one 3 x and you should ring up your local fracture clinic and go and see them, your GP will only refer you to them anyhow and you can do it yourself and save time, your already on the system as you ve been to AE or MIU.
    I ve also been told not to take NSAIDs such as ibruprofen as its alledged to slow new bone growth.

    Never been unable not to ride a bike within 6 weeks and with the last break, was on the turbo the next day, i used a fig of 8 bandage instead of a sling as it gave me better arm movement - though initially, still had to use a sling, if only for comfort.
    In my case, full strength without surgery, has always been about 3 to 4 months ie when you can do 10 press-ups pain free.

    Like i said though, you are not me or i you! So go and see your local fracture clinic.
  • jrduqueminjrduquemin Posts: 791
    I broke mine at the Malvern Hills Classic in 1991 but as it wasn't a clean break, the doctors at the local hospital told me to keep it in a sling and take painkillers.

    If yours is a clean break, I'm amazed that the hospital you went to didn't advise surgery to pin it. I wouldn't want to have to go to that place by the sounds of it. Good luck with your recovery though Mike...
    2010 Lynskey R230
    2013 Yeti SB66
  • Managed to break both sides at one time or another. Left side side knitted together but with a "step" in it, right side is still "floating" ie still broken after 3-4 years. I have full normal use of shoulders so you dont really need a collarbone other than for beauty!! I was advised that surgery wasnt routine and could lead to nerve damage. Doc said they would pin it if I'd been a fireman or professional sportsman.
    2 Wheels or not 2 wheels..That is not in question.
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    right side is still "floating" ie still broken after 3-4 years. I have full normal use of shoulders so you dont really need a collarbone other than for beauty!!

    Ooh! Now I feel queasy.

    It seems lots of people have very different experinces for what is essentially the same injury. Doc on Friday and I might push to get it pinned.

    Cheers all.
  • LookyhereLookyhere Posts: 987
    Surgery isnt without any risk, i broke mine and at first it was a sling, i went to the nuffield for for a consultation re surgery - the big problem is infection, weakening of the bone caused by drilling hole's in it, migration of a screw to another part of the body and for a cyclist - if the metal work isnt removed, then a subsequent break will involve twisted metal work inside your shoulder.... i stuck with the sling :)
    The NHS wont op on you unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • mikeeyemikeeye Posts: 162
    I broke mine in a car vs bicycle RTA in September 2011. I was discharged from physiotherapy on Monday (20th May 2013) having had surgery (eventually) in January this year. So recovery has taken 20 months so far. I have exercises that I need to keep doing to strengthen my shoulder and I wear a support while cycling.

    The initial break was a comminuted (4 pieces) mid shaft break, which felt very loose to me. I was kept in hospital overnight (because I'd been knocked unconcious) and sent home with a triangular sling, but no specifics of how to wear it. A few days later I rang the fracture clinic as I was concerned that it all felt too loose and unsupported. The nurse explained that I should be wearing the sling under clothing for the first couple of weeks to keep the upper arm as immobilised as possible. The sling should be adjusted such that the forearm is roughly at the height of your navel. After the two weeks, the sling could be worn outside clothing.

    When I first saw my consultant, he based it all on the x-rays from the night of the crash.and said it would heal on its own in a few weeks. My concerns about it not being held in one place by the wearing of a triangular sling were brushed off.

    It didn't heal. I ended up having a CT scan in May 2012 which confirmed non-union. At that point I was told it could be plated (not pinned) and we arranged that we would leave it until the autumn since (a) it might unite on its own still and (b) I was able to cycle, so recovery would be in the off-season. When it came to the surgery, the consultant managed to scare me with the explanations of all that could go wrong such that he ended up recommending that I get a second opinion. I did that, and the second consultant said if it's still causing a problem after all this time, get it plated. So I was booked in for that to happen in January this year.

    On the day of the op, the surgeon said if the bones turned out to have fused, he would not rebreak them to plate them, instead he would saw off the boney lump where the uppermost piece of bone overlapped the lower piece. That's what happened, so the recovery was much quicker than I had been expecting. Things have definitely improved since the surgery and I now have full range of movement without pain - this was not the case before the operation. There is still a lump on that collarbone, but it's smoother than it was pre-op. The shoulder itself still aches from time-to-time, but the site of the break is pain free.

    My understanding is that a non-surgical approach is by far the most common - even in the USA where money is king in health care. So my case was definitely an outlier, but if I'd known at the outset that it would take as long as it did I would have argued for plating right at the start. At the very least, my advice would be to try to ensure the bones are as well aligned as you can get them (not easy when there's all the soft tissue damage and swelling making it hard to see exactly what's going on).

    Another thing worth mentioning is that the lack of use of your arm for even a few weeks will likely lead to shoulder problems. On removing the sling for the first time, my arm was very numb. I had to do pendulum exercises to start to get movement back. Expect to have to work at this, but you should look forward to fairly rapid progress if my experience is normal. Maybe how bad this turns out to be will depend on the adjacent soft tissue damage that occured when it broke. Certainly it was nowhere near as bad following the surgery, but I didn't need the sling for as long then either.

    My right shoulder (the broken one) is shorter than the left shoulder now. For that reason, my physiotherapist has included exercises that help with good posture as she was concerned that I could have complications in the long term.

    Apologies for this being so long.

    Good luck.
    If you still don't know what recursion is, read this sentence.
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    MikeEye wrote:
    I broke...Good luck.

    Thanks for all the info Mike. My swelling is making it hard to work out whenever everything is alinged, and it's easy to lose the alignment again with just a slight move of my arm. I'll have a chat with the Doc tomorrow.

    Cheers
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,205
    Good luck Giant Mike. Go see an upper Limb specialist
  • stratcatstratcat Posts: 160
    I broke my collarbone last November. It was right at the joint so they plated it straight away. I had no advice about moving it and so had my arm in the sling for six weeks (stupid, stupid, stupid!) When I saw the doc he told me to take the sling off, but I couldn't move my arm. It took a good few weeks to get any movement back. I then had restricted movement with the plate in so they took it out (they told me to keep the sling on but I took it off within an hour). It's now better, a bit of an ache now and again, strength returning normally.
    I've been told since by a physio that he'd have a cyclist with a plate back on the bike after ten days.
    Find a good physio, the nhs physio was bobbins!
  • redjeepǃredjeepǃ Posts: 517
    I think it all depends upon the nature of the fracture. I broke mine and it took about 4 weeks or so, but I couldn't do anything anyway as my other arm was still in plaster for another 6 weeks :? .
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    7 days in and it's starting to ache overnight. I'm hoping that's pain from the bone healing itself. hoping to be back on the turbo in 10 days; just need to get a working bike as mine's smashed into lots of bits.
  • Broke mine 10 days ago, result of having my front wheel clipped by a rider coming across my line in a race. Got back on turbo less than 48hrs later, not too bad but had to stop wearing sling whilst training as posture was uncomfortable (and the neoprene sling got soaked with sweat!). Only put the sling on when it starts to ache and am sleeping by wedging myself into a semi-sitting up position in bed. Started with some pretty strong anti-inflams & pain killers but am now on brufen 400s, sleeping ok but stiff as in the morning. Plan to race end of Jun.
  • GiantMike wrote:
    7 days in and it's starting to ache overnight. I'm hoping that's pain from the bone healing itself. hoping to be back on the turbo in 10 days; just need to get a working bike as mine's smashed into lots of bits.

    Did you get it plated in the end? Is the aching from the bone or the muscles around?

    I broke mine just over 7 weeks ago and plated 5 weeks ago. Got all kinds of muscle and tendon aches, think they were from having it in a sling for 4 weeks and results of op on the muscles. Was on the turbo 4 days after op with arm in a sling, nd without the sling a couple of weeks after the op. havn't been out on the roads yet until I get my X-ray a week tomorrow to check everything has fused.
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    Haven't had it plated (yet). I think the aching is from the bone rather than the muscles. I'm hoping to see 'Dr Bones' this week for another x-ray and a plan for recovery. Feeling strangely run-down too; a bit chesty, sniffly and I have a couple of mouth ulcers too - not at all like me! Getting very bored of doing nothing for most of the day.
  • DruidorDruidor Posts: 230
    Broke mine when I was 10, my older brother landed while we were mucking about, mum sent me to bed and went to the hospital the next day, where the reset it and put my arm in a sling for a few weeks.
    ---
    Sensa Trentino SL Custom 2013 - 105 Compact - Aksium Race
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    Quick update (in case anybody is interested in the future)...

    From the time of the injury and for the first 2 weeks the area around the collar bone was sore and I was very tense. Went to see Dr Bones who told me I had broken my collar bone and it should heal, which was reassuring! He also said I needed to take the sling off every hour.

    After 4 weeks I went to see a physio wh prodded and poked and said that the bones still hadn't joined and were quite 'fluid'. She said I had very tense muscles and I needed to take the sling off whenever I could, so I only wore it at night to stop me rolling onto it.

    At 5 weeks the collar bone started to hurt if I moved my arm which I assume is a result of the bones being lightly fused now. Today it's the same but I managed 90 mins out on the roadbike for some intervals and a bit of a ride-out. I found out that riding is OK, but when I bunny-hopped a pothole it hurt quite a bit!

    Going for an X-Ray on Monday to see what Dr Bones has to say. Probably something like: "You have broken your collar bone and it is a bit healed now. Go away."

    So, hopefully it will be healed but soft after 6 weeks (normal, apparently) and perfect after 12.
  • tlw1tlw1 Posts: 20,043
    more importantly - what have you done about your bike
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    matthew h wrote:
    more importantly - what have you done about your bike

    Good point. Just got a new Scott Addict frame and some Ksyrium SLs. I'll salvage what I can from the old bike, add a bit of Dura Ace and some new bar tape.
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