Collarbone pain, what is it?
Do you have a collarbone pain? You need to thoroughly assess you overall condition. People usually pay very little attention to the symptoms and don’t realize that some of the injuries might be vital to your health or even life threatening. There are many injuries that don’t manifest themselves right away but let them go and it might be too late to treat. Each disease or injury has its own characteristics, so called symptoms.
So before we dive in to the reasons of the collarbone pain, let’s establish what the collarbone itself is first. Collarbone or clavicle is an S-shaped tubular bone that serves as a strut between the shoulder blade and the breast bone. At its medial end it connects to the breast bone (sternum) at the sternoclavicular joint. At its lateral end it connects to the shoulder blade at the acromioclavicular joint. You can easily find it by touching the area between the neck and your shoulder. It is the longest horizontally positioned bone in our body, so you won’t miss. Chances are that you have already found it since you have a pain in that particular place.
Collarbone pain reasons usually are:
1. Collarbone fracture.
It is one of the most frequent reasons for the collarbone pain out there. This injury is very common in sports: football, basketball, wrestling, track and field and so on. The mechanics of the collarbone fracture is usually a direct impact of a force – a direct hit to the collarbone. Collarbone damage that is followed by a collarbone pain might happen as a result of falling down on your shoulder, your hand or an elbow. Under the muscle pressure the middle fracture is displaced up and backwards and a peripheral fracture under the weight of the hand is usually displaced down and inside. You have a pain when moving a hand; feel a definite restriction in the shoulder joint. Swelling and redness is usually noticeable in the area of the fracture.
2. Dislocation of the clavicle (collarbone) joints.
Another possible reason for the collarbone pain. The reason of the dislocation could be a direct hit to the chest, shoulder hit or as a result of a fall on your side. The sternoclavicular end of the collarbone can have a forward, backward, upward or downward displacement. The most common is the anterior sternoclavicular joint dislocation – it is when the medial end of the collarbone is pushed toward the outside of the chest. The posterior dislocation happens when the collarbone is pushed backward into the chest. The direct hit to the medial collarbone part can cause a posterior sternoclavicular joint dislocation with damage to the trachea, esophagus, thoracic duct, lung, or large blood vessels. For sternoclavicular dislocations to happen a very significant force has to be applied – it usually happens from a direct hit to the front of the shoulder, although dislocation may also happen from the inflammatory processes. The dislocation severity that causes the collarbone pain is measured by the extent of damage to the ligaments. The most usual are first-degree dislocations when the ligaments are partially torn or overstretched. Second degree is when the complete tear occurs to sternoclavicular and partial tear to the costoclavicular ligaments. Third degree injury occurs when the rupture of both ligaments and a dislocation of the collarbone from the chest occurs.
3. Osteolysis of the distal clavicle.
Sometimes you feel the collarbone pain right by the shoulder. You may also feel some stiffness and swelling. The pain usually increases if some lifting activities take place: push-ups, bench press and other forms of heavy lifting. It happens a lot to bodybuilders, crossfitters, boxers, basketball players and athletes alike. Collarbone pain caused by the osteolysis refers to a softening, absorption and dissolution of bone or the removal or loss of calcium in bone.
Post traumatic osteolysis of the clavicle is an uncommon condition, characterized by persistent shoulder and collarbone pain associated with decalcification of the distral tip of the clavical following trauma to the acromo-clavicular joint.
You can still have a full range of motion in the shoulder and the x-ray can reveal no injury to the bone or joint. Usually with minor degree osteolysis a full rest is prescribed. The range of shoulder activity should be minimized to let the AC joint rest and re-mineralize.