Broken Collarbone in Children: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation
Picture of the collarbone

Your Care Instructions

Your child has broken or cracked his or her collarbone, or clavicle. The collarbone is the long, slightly curved bone that connects the shoulder to the chest. It supports the shoulder.

A broken collarbone may take 6 weeks or longer to heal. Your child will need to wear an arm sling to keep the broken bone from moving while it heals. At first, it may hurt to move the arm. This will get better with time.

Healthy habits can help your child heal. Give your child a variety of healthy foods. And don't smoke around him or her.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Help your child to wear the sling day and night for as long as the doctor prescribes. Your child may take off the sling for bathing. When the sling is off, help your child avoid arm positions or motions that cause or increase pain.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's collarbone for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Your child can try sleeping with pillows propped under the arm for comfort.
  • After a few days, have your child put his or her fingers, wrist, and elbow through their full range of motion several times a day. This will keep them from getting stiff. You may get instructions on rehabilitation exercises your child can do when the shoulder starts to heal.
  • You may use warm packs after the first 3 days for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to ease pain.
  • You may notice a bump where the collarbone is broken. Over time, the bump will get smaller. A small bump may remain, but it should not affect your child's arm strength or movement.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child's fingers become numb, tingly, cool, or pale.
  • Your child cannot move his or her arm.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has increased pain and swelling.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter U363 in the search box to learn more about "Broken Collarbone in Children: Care Instructions".