How long to recover from broken collarbone?

walkingbootweather Posts: 2,443
edited September 2013 in Commuting chat
Against my better judgement I agreed to make up a team for one of these adventure race thingys on Sunday. Took a bit of a tumble near the beginning and injured my shoulder. Struggled through to the end before going to A&E. Turns out I have broken my collarbone, but have been pretty lucky because it's a clean break without too much damage to ligaments so shouldn't need surgery. Still hurts though.

Anyway, how long am I likely to be off the bike for? Any recovery tips or things to be aware off?

Feel free to take the p!ss - it's my own stupid fault.
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  • daniel_b
    daniel_b Posts: 11,770
    Realistically, 4-6 weeks I would say.

    I had a clean break as well, and it healed as near to perfect as could be apparently.


    Sleep on your back to start with, with a pillow under your affected arm to keep it level.
    Buy a decent adjustable velcro sling for around £15-£20, it made a huge difference to my comfort, as I could adjust the degree of support at times.

    I did not sleep very well on my back, so reverted to my side, what I did was, and I guess my body knew not to move, is I slept on the side that was not affected, and had my fist going down onto the mattress of the affected arm, this then kept the shoulder in the correct position - I did not wear a support at night.

    Painwise - the harshest pain I experienced was about 1-2 weeks in, which is what I was told is when the bone began to knit itself back together, that was proper stop everything you are doing, and take your breath away bits of pain, probably not lasting for more than 30 seconds.

    Good luck with the recovery, hopefully you will be back on the bike ASAP.
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  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,570
    Adventure race thingy? You thought this was a good idea? How old are you?
    Regarding recovery time I haven't broken a collarbone but ribs took about 6 weeks so I'd think something similar. Unless you happen to race in MotoGP in which case it takes no time at all and you can race a couple of days later.
  • mudcow007
    mudcow007 Posts: 3,861
    took mine 4 weeks before i was on my bike, mine was a weird an wonderful break which has a left a huuuge lump

    how is the bruise? mine was a good un
    Keeping it classy since '83
  • Thanks chaps,

    Yes Veronese I must be about the same as you - so should be old enough to know better, but was caught at a moment of weakness (in the pub after lots of beer). Still managed to beat some of my team mates who were younger and more able bodied than me though.

    Sleeping is definitely a problem - there is a sharp pain and are lots of grinding noises it I try and turn over, and cramp if I don't. Will try with pillow under arm.

    Am on my third sling already and none of them seem to have helped much. The surgeon seemed to suggest that wearing one was as much a warning to others not to bump into you as to offer any worthwhile support anyway.

    Strangely there is no real bruise to speak of. The doctor did try to compare with the other shoulder but he reckoned that was wonky and must have been broken at some time in the past too :shock:

    Should I be trying to manipulate the shoulder to avoid stiffening up and put up with the grinding, or just protecting the area best I can?

    I'm just on ibuprofen and paracetamol should I be taking anything else?
    Nobody told me we had a communication problem
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,570
    Paracetemol and Codeine or Co Codamol or Co Dydramol, can't remember which is strongest. I think at least 2 of those are available over the counter.
    If it makes you feel any better about being old enough to know better. I comprehensively broke 3 ribs mini moto racing, then punctured a lung a while later when I sneezed and put myself in hospital for a week.
    I would think if it's possible to move a bit without grinding it wouldn't be a bad thing, grinding probably is best avoided.
    Most importantly well done on beating younger types.
  • mudcow007
    mudcow007 Posts: 3,861
    i found sleeping quite difficult too, i ended up propping my self up in bed using loads of pillows

    i also found i lost loads of muscle mass (i was into lifting back in them days) in my defunct arm, i dont think i kept moving my shoulder around

    sailor jerries (rum) helped me get through my break, it took a week or so for all the bruising to come through it was "nipple to nipple" on me

    serves me right for riding into the side of a car really
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  • Headhuunter
    Headhuunter Posts: 6,494
    I broke my arm earlier this year and was in plaster for about 6ish weeks I think and then started riding again after a week or 2. The bone used to ache a bit when I 1st started riding again but physio told me that it was good to start putting a bit of stress through it to increase bone density and eventually it stopped aching...
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  • Man up.

    Broke mine the day before a Munro bagging holiday in an MTB fall. Rode home with it broken, jumped in the car and went to casualty where they tried to cut off my best club jersey. When I refused to let them they told me it would hurt a lot to take it off over my head but I managed. After the X ray confirmed it was broken I was given a sling and told to rest and come back in four weeks.

    The next day we went to Aberfeldy for a week in which we climbed a dozen Munros. Only thing I didn't attempt was any more driving.

    To be fair this was 25 years ago when I was young and fit (and daft).

    Found the worst thing was sneezing the first few days after the fall as the ends of the bone grated against each other.

    Turbo trainer kept me fit when I got back from holiday and as I had quite a physical job back then I couldn't go to work for four weeks so watched a lot of cricket. Happy daze.
  • You had me impressed until you mentioned cricket.

    Injured or not I wouldn't have minded bagging a monroe myself :wink:

    Nobody told me we had a communication problem
  • Nice one.

    Hope you have a speedy recovery and remember, the turbo trainer is your friend until you can get back on the road.
  • mikeeye
    mikeeye Posts: 162
    I'm just on ibuprofen and paracetamol should I be taking anything else?
    When I broke mine, I was told not to use ibuprofen as it slows bone repair.

    FWIW, here is a post about my experiences. It sounds as though your break is cleaner than mine was so hopefully you'll be back on your bike and fully mended quite soon.

    Good luck.
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  • prj45
    prj45 Posts: 2,208
    It'll never heal, mine still clicks after three years and still hurts sometimes (I think much of the time except I only notice it occasionally).

    Mine was a big break though, into three pieces, and where the bone has knitted back there's like a massive ball in the middle.

    Mobility of shoulder is not affected, but it really pisses me off, wish I'd never did it.
  • bartimaeus
    bartimaeus Posts: 1,812
    Whatever you do take heed of your doctor's advice. A friend of mine broke his collar bone, so I was surprised to see him out on a ride a couple of weeks later...

    Me: "Thought you were injured?"

    Him: "Doc told me not to ride as it's not healed yet, but I'll be fine as long as I don't crash - I'll be taking it easy today"

    Five minutes later his bars were snagged by a branch and he took a very minor tumble... re-broke his collar-bone and was out for the next six weeks or so.
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  • itboffin
    itboffin Posts: 20,062
    could be years, why dont you send me all your bikes and i'll look after them whilst you repair :twisted:
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  • The first time I did it (at 15) I was back to normal within 6 weeks. The second time (2 years ago) it took a bit longer and was a lot more painful. It turned out that I had a loose fragment of bone floating about that had to be taken out. Once that was gone I was sorted quickly, as you have a clean break that shouldn't be a problem.
    Rest up and take it easy for the first couple of weeks. Take the painkillers when they are due, not when you need them as then it is too late. The Doctor prescribed me Tramadol which was brilliant at blocking out the pain. I also had a period of physio which was great for getting the slouch out of my shoulder and getting all the movement back as it should be. She wouldn't let me back on the bike until I had full rotation back in my shoulder which was about 2 1/2 months, but about 8 weeks post surgery.
    Good luck with the recovery.
  • Thanks again for comments.

    I never realised that NSAIDs might inhibit bone repair and though researching the web is inconclusive I have pretty much cut them our. I agree with Paul that Tramadol is pretty fantastic - when I knackered my back about 10 years ago it was pretty much the only thing that worked. For now it is pretty much just regular paracetamol.

    Nine days in, improvement is significant. Swelling pretty much gone and strangely never really got any bruising. It still grinds and hurts if I try to rotate or raise my arm but compared to other's experiences I think I've been pretty lucky. Don't think I'll try and lift anything heavy, or do any extreme downhilling for a while, and probably best to keep off the bike for another couple of weeks. Would loan you my bikes in the meantime ITB but the gearing is probably a bit big for you :wink:

    I asked the doc about floating fragments and he seemed to think that if there were any that they'd be held in by the gristle and would bond into the rest of the bone mass.

    I'd say this was a much heavier fall than I've ever had on the bike (they have mainly been topples or skids, rather than direct hit of something immovable) so glad to still be here despite not wearing a helmet.
    Nobody told me we had a communication problem
  • davis
    davis Posts: 2,506
    I'd say this was a much heavier fall than I've ever had on the bike (they have mainly been topples or skids, rather than direct hit of something immovable) so glad to still be here despite not wearing a helmet.

    I missed this bit. Clearly you were killed to death and you're therefore posting from the afterlife!
    Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.