Collarbone injured


in Daily updates, Ottawa, The outdoors

Thanks to an unseen pothole on Somerset Street, I ended up spending the night in the hospital with a broken left collarbone.

At the moment, it is quite obviously and painfully out of alignment. It needs to be kept immobilized in a sling for six weeks. In a week, the doctors will take more x-rays to determine if surgery is needed. At the moment, things are pretty foggy from lack of sleep and painkillers.

I will stay totally immobile for the rest of today, then see how I feel tomorrow morning. If moving is as painful as today, I will likely stay home to give my bones a bit more time to reconnect uninterrupted.

[Update: 3 June 2010] I had a follow-up x-ray at the Ottawa General Hospital today. At this point, it looks like surgery will not be required. I have another follow-up on June 18th.

[Update: 7 June 2010] As of today, my shoulder is a lot less painful than over the last week. I can even tie shoes.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan May 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm
Byron Smith May 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Ouch! Hope you’re mending quickly.

Padraic May 30, 2010 at 7:24 pm

That sounds terrible! I hope you complain to the city about the pothole. Get well soon.

Emily May 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I really hope that you heal up quickly and that it is not too painful along the way.

Tristan May 30, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I’m very sorry to hear of this unfortunate event. Do you fear you will be house ridden for long? I’m in Montreal currently, but I can probably swing a visit on the weekend to help out with things.

Alena May 31, 2010 at 1:24 am

It may be a good idea to take a little time off. It will be hard for you to do most simple tasks, but at least it is not your right arm. Was there any dislocation in the shoulder? I hope that you will not have to have surgery and that it will all heal in good time. Try to take extra calcium to give your bones some help. Is there anything that I could do in Vancouver to make your recovery easier? My best wishes are always with you!

Milan May 31, 2010 at 11:38 am

The most painful thing so far are involuntary spasms of my arm and shoulder muscles. They happen especially often when I am trying to fall asleep and hurt a great deal.

Sarah May 31, 2010 at 11:44 am

I hope you feel better soon! I broke my left collarbone about ten years ago and it was a good three weeks before I could do very much without going white with pain. Challenge # 1 was how to sleep comfortably & my solution was a reclining chair with a cushion along my back. Challenge #2 was figuring out a way to immobilise my arm while showering given that the sling wasn’t meant to get wet, & my solution was to fashion an alternative sling out of bikinis. On the plus side, my collarbone healed okay despite being out of alignment – it’s a bit lumpy and has left my shoulders a touch uneven, but it doesn’t bother me on a day to day basis.

. May 31, 2010 at 4:46 pm

“Soon after the break, the ends of the bone “bleed” and gradually a fibrous tissue builds up around the end of each break. These tissue formations act as part of the mechanism to restore a blood supply to the site of the fracture and typically after 14 days, they intermingle and bridge the gap. Once the bones are held together by the fibrous tissue, the tissue starts to calcify (i.e. turn into bone). Even if the two ends do not butt up perfectly, the calcification seems to build up in such a way that, after healing, a good cross-section is maintained along the bone. The surplus fibrous tissue dissolves away over the subsequent years.

After about 2-3 months, the fracture should be completely healed, although there is rarely perfect alignment of the broken sections.

The normal treatment for a broken clavicle is simply to keep the arm in a sling or clavicular rings (or similar variants) for 2-3 weeks. For most sufferers the sling is more comfortable and statistically, just as likely to foster a good union.”

Lynn May 31, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Yikes, that sounds awful… get well soon, Milan.

Sarah May 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Re. the explanation above – I broke my collarbone in Andora where they favour the ‘rings’ approach, and was then treated in the UK where they favour slings. In my experience the latter was greatly preferable.

The rings look like a figure 8 and they put one around each shoulder with the centre over your shoulderblades. The logic is that this pulls your broken collarbone into an aligned position (i.e. the broken ends line up), but in my experience it would only stay that way for a few hours at a time, upon which point there was a horrible, agonizing grating as the broken ends of the bone shifted. It took about 24 hours before the bones went totally out of alignment, & then I went back to hospital. I remember an hour long trip through the Alps by ambulance in the middle of the night, and then five doctors speaking an odd combination of French and Spanish who stared at me and debated about whether to operate and put in a plate. In the end they decided not to operate, and after I returned to the UK my doctor took away the figure 8, gave me a sling, and my collarbone healed lumpy but functional. Within about 4 months I was rock climbing (carefully, and with noticeable weakness on that side). I think it was unlikely that my collarbone would not have healed in alignment without surgery because the bones were so unstable, and the sling was remarkably uncomfortable.

Interestingly, there seems to be a chart for estimating the chances of whether someone’s broken collarbone will heal. I’m not sure how much comfort it will give you, but it is interesting

As an aside, you could consider finding a lawyer to get compensation over the pothole. You could probably get a recommendation of a lawyer who deals with bike accidents by calling a local cycling organisation. Three of my friends have brought cases against drivers that injured them & got substantial compensation.

Milan May 31, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I’m in Montreal currently, but I can probably swing a visit on the weekend to help out with things.

Thanks for the offer, but I am managing decently and am probably best off sticking to the strategy of sleeping as much as possible.

Milan June 1, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Please forgive the relative quiet

My stock of pre-written posts was low before I damaged my left side. I will try to peck some out with five fingers during the semi-immobilized weeks ahead, though things will likely be thinner than usual.

Hopefully, tomorrow morning will go better than this morning, and I will be out of the house. Improvising a bikini sling may prove my greatest challenge.

XUP June 3, 2010 at 10:22 am

My daughter snapped her clavicle a year or so ago skating. It hurts. Maybe you’re eligible for some medical marijuana now??

jonny June 10, 2010 at 9:51 am

Hello, I live in England. Sorry to read about your injury! Think we did it the same sort of time so maybe a good comparison. I broke my collar bone playing football half way down the bone. It still looks as if it might come through the skin at times but the pain isn’t as bad as the first 10 days. Any reassurance that it will mend by its self soon?
Also after finally getting to sleep last night my shoulder spasmed and it really hurt, maybe broke the fiborus tissue I’ve reading about, worried that was the one opportunity of a natural healing.

Any help would be great?


Milan June 10, 2010 at 9:59 am

I am not a doctor, but can describe my experience.

I have been wearing a sling for eleven days now. About a week after the injury, it started hurting quite a bit less and I stopped taking painkillers.

I still cannot lie comfortably on my back or side, and have also experienced painful muscle spasms.

If you are having a lot of trouble, it is probably a good idea to go see a doctor.

Milan October 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm

On Saturday, I saw that the pothole I hit has now been filled in.

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