How a broken collarbone is treated

Most broken collarbones are left to heal naturallyusing a simple triangular sling to support the arm and hold the bones together in their normal positions.

The sling is usually applied in hospital after an X-ray has confirmed the collarbone is broken. You'll be given painkillers to relieve the pain.

Surgery under a general anaesthetic is only needed if the injury is severe for example, the bone has broken through the skinor if the bones have failed to line up and are overlapping significantly.

Many different techniques have been used to repair the collarbone, but the most common is to fix the break with a plate and screws. If you need surgery to repair your broken collarbone, ask your surgeon to explain which technique they'll be using, and the advantages and disadvantages of this method.

Being discharged

You may need to stay in hospital overnight, depending on the extent of the injury.

Before you're discharged, you may see a physiotherapist , who can show you some gentle arm and shoulder exercises to do at home with your arm out of its sling. These will help reduce stiffness, relieve some of the pain, and build up strength in your shoulder muscles.


You'll probably need to go back to the hospital outpatient department about one week later tomake sureyour collarbone is healing properly. See your GP if you have any concerns before this appointment.

You should go back to the A&E department if you notice any weakness developing in your arm or hand, or if your pain suddenly becomes worse.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018