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Caring for a collarbone fracture fact sheet

Caring for a collarbone fracture

A collarbone (clavicle) fracture usually occurs in the middle of the bone. Sometimes, these fractures have a bend, but they will heal well and the bones will reset themselves into a straight position with rest and time.

This type of injury is treated in a supportive arm sling for four to six weeks. This will minimise your child’s shoulder movement and reduce their discomfort.

How should I manage my child’s fracture?

  • Pain relief – Your child may experience discomfort in the first few days, so try administering regular doses of pain-relieving medications such as Panadol and Nurofen. Reduce the dose as their pain settles.
  • Movement – Encourage your child to move their fingers, wrist and elbow. However, shoulder movement should be avoided until the sling is removed.

Does my child need a follow-up appointment?

In the vast majority of cases, no follow-up appointment and/or X-rays are required as most collarbone fractures are non-displaced. Displaced collarbones may be referred for a review in a fracture clinic in seven to ten days.

The development of a lump at the fracture site is normal and can take up to a year to subside. In some cases, a small lump may remain, but this will not affect your child’s use of their arm.

A fractured collarbone generally takes three to four weeks to heal, depending on your child’s age. Once your child is pain-free, they can return to normal activities. Contact sports should be avoided for 10 weeks after the sling is removed to reduce the likelihood of a refracture.

Please notify your GP/nurse if:

  • Your child suffers increasing discomfort, despite pain-relief medicine.
  • The injury site becomes more swollen, causing pins and needles, or any altered sensation.
  • You are concerned for any reason.

Contact us

Queensland Children’s Hospital
Level 1, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Resource No: FS118. Developed by Emergency Department. Updated: May 2015. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.