/ Broken Collar Bone

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GravitySucks - on 02 Mar 2019

Sat here at home with a broken Collar bone (good clean snap!) with the the awesome weather just taunting me, so feeling a bit sorry for myself, so perhaps the hive collective could provide me with some positive experience of recovery from this injury and any useful advise to speed up the process.

Ta!

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Alex Riley on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

I also had a clean snap when I broke mine. I've broken five bones and my collarbone was by far the worst.

My advice is just to be patient, it's not something that fixes over night and you really don't want any longer term issues (shoulder instability, rotator cuff impingement etc...).

Mine was painful with a bag for a year or so, then sore for a few more. I do still notice it occasionally, usually if I'm just wearing a thin t shirt with a heavy bag and thats 10 years later.

If you have a copy of Dave Mac's make or break have a read of the shoulder section.

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Greasy Prusiks on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

My experience was it really hurt for one week then ached for another week then back climbing on top rope at four weeks and back to normal at six.

My advice would be do the physio they set you religiously even though it hurts. I've onl got anecdotal evidence but I think it sped up the recovery massively and helped me get a full range of movement back.

Good luck! 

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Alex Riley on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to Greasy Prusiks:

Was that after surgery? 

It seems the recovery is much quicker if you have it pinned (I didn't). My recovery was about 8-10 weeks.

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Greasy Prusiks on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to Alex Riley:

As I remember the doctors advised I didn't need any surgery so it wasn't pinned. 

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wildebeeste - on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to Alex Riley:

Mine was pretty bad with the two ends separated by an inch or two. The surgery (plate and pins) hurt much worse than the injury. But I was a goody two shoes with the physio, and started strength training as soon as I was able. Obviously, be cautious gentle and progressive. 

I think I was wearing a sling for a couple of weeks and back to full strength in 3-4 months, so not too bad really. Incidentally, I think it made me a better skier. I had been skiing quite aggressively, pushing myself to get down places I didn’t really belong. The injury made me reevaluate and focus on improving technically, getting a bunch of lessons etc. Its funny, by taking the focus off  skiing hard I have now far surpassed my previous level and can ski far harder lines with ease.

One fun thing to do might be to see yourself a lower body challenge to keep busy while you are healing. I tried pistol squats. Didn’t get the full thing but did get much closer.

Post edited at 13:56
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Mark Stevenson - on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Just had a client out mountaineering last week who was recovering one. He was late 40s and had the break pinned.

His experience was at 3 months he still couldn't fully load his arm but he was now at 6 months and was mountaineering and climbing again fine albeit with a slightly limited range of motion. We had a great week

Time scale probably varies considerably but potential for full recovery seems to be very high. Possibly better than for dislocations and other soft tissue injuries...

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davkeo - on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Broke mine almost 6 weeks ago now & I'm planning to do some easy winter climbing in the coming days. Clean break at the shoulder end & only slightly dislocated. 

day 10 - 11.5km run
day 22 - light theraband work & hang from pull-up bar 
day 25 - gym session. Cud do or partially do everything I tried. Testing range of motion, pain threshold etc. Rower, cross trainer, band work, abs, sit down back rows, dumbbell flys, bicep curls etc. Letting pain be my guide. 
day 29 - cycle to work. Cud have done this 1 week earlier but felt vibration thru handle bars & uneven road surfaces might hinder progress. 
day 30 - chin up
day 31 - full push up
day 33 - 3 x chin ups
day 35 - 5 x push ups + 5 x chin ups
day 36 - 6 x push ups + 2 x pull ups

Once I felt running wouldn't adversely effect my recovery I started doing that. Others advised against it but you know yourself. For me completing a full push up & pull up was the benchmark for when I thought I might be ready to reintroduce climbing. I cud have started easy bouldering then but it wasn't convenient and I wasn't too bothered. I preferred band work & mobility as I felt this would be more progressive. 

I would say forget about climbing (if u can) for a while & just enjoy the daily progress u make doing mundane stuff like tightening your shoelaces and washing ur arm pits. I think it might even be healthy to give the brain a rest from obsessing over climbing. If it's forced upon you then you might as well spin it in a way that makes it easier to swallow. That was my approach anyway. 

Hope this helps 

Post edited at 14:44
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wildebeeste - on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to davkeo:

Ha ha yeah armpits! Mine got stinky in that sling

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felt - on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Broke mine (nondisplaced) and three ribs a fortnight ago flying off the bike when I wasn't concentrating on a quiet road going downhill; it went from under me when I strayed onto the muddy verge and I faceplanted on the tarmac.

I was advised to stay off the ibuprofen if poss as it impairs bone healing, although online discussion of this offers mixed views. I'm finding sleeping the main issue, but it helps to lie face down and put a down pillow under ribs and clavicle for support. Can't sleep on my back because of sleep paralysis fears, and on my side is pretty tricky but possible. Getting out of bed, and into it, was nigh on impossible to start with. After two weeks the pain is only just lessening, on 8 paracetamol a day, so just hang in there, it'll improve!

Remember you might not be insured to drive. 

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Rigid Raider - on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Broke mine mid-clavicle on 18 August when I crashed the bike. Also broke two ribs high up under the shoulder blade, which hurt for three months. Consultant convinced me it would likely heal on its own but it didn't and I suffered 3 months of discomfort. Consultant continued to claim it was healing and ignored my request for another x-ray saying some people carry on with a pseudo-joint. After 3 months an x-ray showed the bones still completely separate, consultant was shocked but said he couldn't plate it for 4-6 weeks. I also had a frozen shoulder and he said he was even thinking it would be better to deal with that before plating the CB.

Found another consultant who laughed loudly about consultant no. 1 and plated the CB a week later. Lots of pain especially from the sternum and the AC joint ends. Slow improvement, back to driving just after Christmas. Still quite sore three months after plating and the shoulder is badly frozen and painful. Saw consultant no. 2 yesterday who has scheduled a capsule release op for 8 April. This will mean another anaesthetic, lots of pain, lots of physio and no driving for a few weeks. I'm keeping the legs strong and fitness up by walking briskly but shoulder strength has vanished and even simple stuff like gently sawing wood is an effort. The only positive things about it are that it gave me a good excuse not to go cycling during the winter and has given me a lot more empathy for folk who break bones.

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Dangerous Dave - on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Broke mine at the end of November and got it pinned on 1st of December. Mine was badly separated but I was initially it would heal on its own. So glad that I pushed for surgery as the recovery time was so much faster and I have since heard lots of tales of woe from people who did not have it pinned.

As for recovery, well I am typing this reply from the end of a 7 day sport trip in Costa Blanca and felt no pain or discomfort at all so can't all be bad! I was very gently climbing on it 8 weeks post op.

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profitofdoom on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

> Sat here at home with a broken Collar bone (good clean snap!) with the the awesome weather just taunting me, so feeling a bit sorry for myself, so perhaps the hive collective could provide me with some positive experience of recovery from this injury and any useful advise to speed up the process.

Broke mine as a passenger in a car crash [a clean simple break]. It took 6 weeks to get better, during which time it was just a real nuisance tying shoelaces, getting dressed in the morning, and cooking but not a major problem at all. It just hurt up to the 6-week mark

It got completely better, just a few twinges for a year or so, which wasn't a problem at all

I hope you get better very quickly and smoothly

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Misha - on 02 Mar 2019
In reply to davkeo:

washing ur arm pits. I think it might even be healthy

I was wondering what that smell was when we were sharing that flat in Cham. 

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Mr Fuller on 03 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Some of the recovery times quoted here are extremely fast. When I broke my collarbone the thought of press-ups after a few weeks was impossible. Take your time with it and don't rush, it will be a tough process and very frustrating but everyone has to go through it. I couldn't raise my arms above my shoulders for 8 weeks and couldn't do much exercise but walking for the same amount of time, and that wasn't through lack of trying.

I joined a gym once I felt a bit better and did stuff like one-arm rowing and leg presses but it took me about 3 months before I could even consider going climbing.

Have a think about objectives while you can't do much: what do you miss and what is important? For me, I wanted to prove I had no lasting damage so decided to train to do one arm pushups on the side I broke. Eventually I managed 5 on each arm and remember thinking that was a great day.

Long term I don't notice at all day to day, except one arm is now 2 cm shorter than the other, giving me a thoroughly negative ape index. 

Post edited at 07:52
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davkeo - on 03 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

I should add, that although I can do a lot after 5.5 weeks, full recovery will take another 3-5 weeks, I expect. Maybe more maybe less. I still have some pain doing things like jumping gear (1st & 2nd) but overall I can do most things with a small amount of pain now. So 3-5 more weeks to build back what little strength I had previously & rehab it to a point were I can push it, forget about it & try hard again. Getting to the stage were you can begin rehab is a good focus initially. 

Misha you got a thumb down for that nonsense.

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Ridge - on 03 Mar 2019
In reply to Mr Fuller:

> Some of the recovery times quoted here are extremely fast. When I broke my collarbone the thought of press-ups after a few weeks was impossible.

+1. I broke mine about 30 years ago and remember it taking months, even in my early 20s. 

I expect a lot depends on the location & severity of the break.

Post edited at 09:56
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GravitySucks - on 03 Mar 2019
In reply to All: 

Thanks for the feedback, i guess that i will just have to be patient and let nature take it's course. Maybe I can change from a climber who cycles a bit to a cyclist who climbs a bit ! ;-)

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HB1 - on 03 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

 > Sat here at home with a broken Collar bone (good clean snap!) . .

Surprised you weren't at least given the option of a plate. I did mine some years ago, and had a plate fitted within a week. A bit painful at the time, but I could walk and run OK, did the exercises, had the plate removed after 6 weeks or so, and progressed (slowly at first, because worst pain came after the 2nd op) I did it in January, lost some interest in climbing for a few months, then by August I could manage leading Limestone HVS (Grit took a little longer!)

So don't despair. . . 

                                             . . . yet

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Rigid Raider - on 04 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

You absolutely MUST get a follow-up x-ray after a couple of weeks. If the ends are showing no signs of joining you must insist on plating while the bone ends are still fresh. Once they go to sleep and round off it's much harder for the surgeon to re-start the healing process. Mine did it by abrading the bone ends, digging out bone and chopping it up and packing it into and around the gap along with some cancellous chips, which are animal bone with the biological material taken out. I did not take ibuprofen because the jury is still out on whether it hinders the healing process by suppressing the bleeding and formation of a callus. Paracetamol is your friend, taking 1 gm every 5 hours so that the level doesn't drop. Keep a log so you don't forget.

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Lee Proctor - on 04 Mar 2019

I broke mine on Wednesday, last week. I was cycling down a hill and passed a council lorry emptying the wheelie bins on the other side of the road. As I came alongside the lorry a council worker pushed a wheelie bin from behind the lorry straight into my side of the road, I didn't have a chance! my bike is destroyed and my collarbone snapped at both ends with the middle bit poking up. It's sore but I also cracked/bruised a few ribs which hurts like hell. I'm having the collarbone  pinned and plated on Friday - I'll let you know how it goes.

Good luck with yours and I'm with you in spirit!

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Tricky Dicky - on 04 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Wet wipes are good for keeping your arm pit from getting too stinky when your arm is in a sling....

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vscott - on 04 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

As you can see - lots of varied experiences and timelines... few further bits that might help. For pain, if paracetomol not cutting it tramadol can help - esp for sleeping. For stabilising - worth trying an X-brace as well as/instead of arm sling - found it supported the shoulder better whereas the sling brought the shoulder forward + nice to be able to vary (and wash!) the supports. Exercise - gym bike/turbo or gentle running (don't trip) prob best place to start.

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Rigid Raider - on 04 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

My problem with the laissez-faire attitude was that my shoulder had collapsed inwards and was a good inch shorter than the other, meaning my armpit was squashed shut and permanently stinky. I couldn't contemplate spending the rest of my life with that and the discomfort of the bone ends buried in the surrounding soft tissue. To compensate I was hitching my shoulder up high, which caused additional muscle pain.

I have managed to maintain reasonable leg strength by short brisk walks, the CV fitness has diminished a bit, but arm and shoulder strength both sides is very poor indeed.  

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pneame - on 04 Mar 2019
In reply to Rigid Raider:

> You absolutely MUST get a follow-up x-ray after a couple of weeks. If the ends are showing no signs of joining you must insist on plating while the bone ends are still fresh.

I am astonishing that anyone, even a lowly GP, would not think that this was the standard of care...

Having said that, a cursory search of the NICE guidelines doesn't turn anything up, but here are the guidelines from the US Orthopods - https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/clavicle-fracture-broken-collarbone/

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Iamgregp - on 04 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Broke mine when I was 4 years old.  Due to my tender years at the time, I can't draw upon any learnings, other to say that that was a sh!tty day at the zoo.

Sorry to hear you've had a mischief and hope your recovery goes well all the same though. 

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neilwiltshire on 06 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Broke some ribs and some bones in my back once. 11 weeks later I was climbing. Just wait it out, you'll be alright.

On a different occasion I separated by shoulder which is more similar to what you're experiencing. I think it was a similar amount of time - about 3 months to climbing again, though with this one I had to build up strength and flexibility again to be able to climb at my capability, whereas with the back and ribs I was pretty well good to go at 11 weeks.

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richlan - on 06 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

I have broken both of mine, one on the bike one skiing, i didn't break mine mid bone though, they were both right at the end into about 3 or 4 pieces, the first one took longer for my ribs to sort than the collar bone itself which stopped me riding the bike for about 6 weeks, the second on i was back on the bike in 5 weeks, i was climbing (not very hard or much) after both of them in around the same time i seem to recall

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felt - on 23 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

How are you getting on now? Be interesting to hear.

I've come off the paracetamol but it still hurts like billy-o and I have quite a lump on my shoulder. Keep forgetting I shouldn't be using my right arm and doing things like pulling branches off roads and picking the kids up, setting me back a bit, to the extent that I've thought a couple of times that I've fractured it again. But I don't think so.

Still, hope to be back on the bike next week, six weeks after it happened. My wife's indoor bike, which I'd previously been a bit off about – to my shame, and her amusement – has proved indispensable.

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Rigid Raider - on 25 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

My own is now 17 weeks from plating and I'm pretty happy about the collar bone although the entire area is still sore thanks to the frozen shoulder, which is causing lots of inflammation and pain. Nonetheless I've done a couple of short rides on the bike and the legs and lungs felt considerably better the second time, leading me to believe that full fitness will return fast once I get over the second operation. 

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L TonyBrasko - on 25 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

had same problems with it

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Lee Proctor - on 25 Mar 2019

It's 16 days since my ORIF surgery to insert a plate and pins into my collarbone. So far so good, the wound has healed really well but it's still a bit numb, I'm training on my Wattbike for one hour every day and have just completed my 9th session since surgery. I'm still in a sling so have to ride one-armed which is a bit awkward but manageable. I have another 10 days in the sling and then a month of intensive physio. All being well I'll be back outdoors riding by mid-May early June.

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GravitySucks - on 25 Mar 2019
In reply to felt:

Thanks for asking, it seems to be healing ok, getting a little better with each passing day. It doesn't give me any pain until I actually try to 'do something' ;-)  as with your experience, you get lulled into a false sense of normality until you try to pick up a shopping bag or wave a paint brush at the wall above waist height ! That's when you realise that it will be quite a while before you will be smashing the 9b+'s

I got as far as putting my bike on the turbo trainer before I realised that the bottom bracket was in need of a little attention and I no longer have the strength or dexterity to fix it, so there it rests, mocking me. I'm not sure I would have the will power to climb aboard the darn thing when its already twenty degree's plus outside and I can see hundreds of cyclists streaming out to the peak virtually every day !

Hope you are making a good recovery and will be back on the bike / rock before too long.

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felt - on 25 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Thanks. Went for a relaxed family ride on the Tarka Trail yesterday, totally flat, and that was OK; all depends what you're asking the shoulder to do. Things like lifting a spoon to my mouth still occasionally iffy. All considered, hasn't been a bad time to be off the bike as it's been massively windy in N Devon for what seems like forever; the sun and calm seem to have coincided with the return to fitness, which is nice, but doubtless it'll all return to wet bluster soon. Worse thing was having a flat tyre on the car three weeks ago; as I wondering how the hell I was going to take the flat off and put the spare on, a nice woman in the nearby stables came and helped. Well, actually did the whole job....

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Rigid Raider - on 28 Mar 2019
In reply to felt:

Over 17 weeks now since I got mine plated but the frozen shoulder is still making the whole thing sore. Today I saw a physio who measured my grip strength; the average for a bloke aged 50 is apparently 73 lbs, I'm 62 but my left hand can do 102 lbs and my right has improved from 30 lbs a month ago to 64 lbs today, which ain't bad. 

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ChrisJD on 28 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

Broke mine with an MTB pedal strike early summer 2015.  Got it plated really quickly (was lucky).   It healed fast, was back on bike (probably too early, went to Alps!) and don't notice it all now. 

The emergency & surgery NHS care was top notch (Chesterfield, well done), the after care less so.  The NHS physio was next to worthless, so got some private treatment, though didn't need much.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3ys6d9uje2biomk/AAAuIp1GMznUeM9jazBvuEXqa?dl=0

Rehab: Just go with what you body allows, it will let you know!

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chris20 - on 28 Mar 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

I broke mine 3 weeks ago coming off my bike on the tram tracks, the bones weren't aligned and ligaments rupture so had surgery the following week. I felt alright after the accident but then lots of pain following surgery and sleep is a horrible experience. I found it a lot better to build up the pillows so i'm more upright. Unfortunately my break was very close to the shoulder so not enough room for a simple plate and screws, so I've had a clavicle hook put in which sound like it's going to impinge on the ligament, restrict movement and cause pain for 6 months until they take it out, so I'm preparing for a long recovery time!

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Rigid Raider - on 01 Apr 2019
In reply to chris20:

You're not Glasgowcyclist on Cycle Chat forum, are you?

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chris20 - on 05 Apr 2019
In reply to Rigid Raider:

No

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JoeTurner14 - on 15 Apr 2019
In reply to GravitySucks:

I cleanly snapped mine whilst going AOT on a snowboard, landing on the side of my head. Cracking adrenaline rush that left me quite faint, and a trippy exit from the mountain side facing backwards on a snow-sled sooking on nitrous oxide..

However, I digress. Recovery was slow and depressing, there's no beating about the bush. As a climber I was told my recovery was much quicker due to muscle around shoulder and upper body.

WHATEVER YOU DO! Don't rush it! I read horror stories of folk re-breaking it at home whilst getting up off the couch too fast, sounded nasty. Pretty sure it was a good month and a half before I could think about climbing again, its just such a susceptible joint to movement.. Of course you only realise this once you break it in two! 

Get comfy with climbing documentaries! 

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