Collarbone pain can be excruciating, and is very common among athletes, especially hockey and football players who often suffer injuries to their collarbone (also known as the clavicle).
The collarbone is a short, curved bone that runs across the top of the chest, sitting between the neck and shoulder.
Fracturing the collarbone is the most common bone injury, as is the resulting clavicle pain.
Because the collarbone has a great deal to do with how the upper body manages weight, any injury to the clavicle can make using the arms and hands difficult, if not impossible.
After an injury, pain in the collarbone is typically felt when the arm or hand is moved—and sometimes even when not moving.
Does Bad Posture Cause Collarbone Pain?
The shoulder is the most complex joint in the body, made up of several articulations that connect the upper limbs to the rest of the skeletal system. Three bones make up the shoulder area: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). The shoulder and all of its parts have an incredible range of motion, but that also makes it unstable and susceptible to injury.
Poor posture does indeed have a direct correlation to collarbone shoulder pain and is one of the main causes of joint damage. We aren’t meant to be sitting all day, hunched forward at our computers or on the couch watching a screen. Bad posture moves our bones out of alignment, shortens muscles, and allows cartilage to break down faster. Being in an unnatural position can cause long-term, permanent damage.
What Causes Pain in the Collarbone?
There are a number of reasons that pain in the collarbone or pain under the collarbone can occur. If you damaged the left side you will feel left collarbone pain, and the same for the right side.
- Distal clavicular osteolysis: This is also known as “weightlifter’s shoulder” because of the excessive pressure placed on the shoulder joint by lifting heavy weights. The pain is worse when sleeping on your side.
- Collarbone fractures: These often happen when playing sports, caused by falling on the shoulder or sometimes by an outstretched arm or hand meant to break a fall. Car accidents and direct blows to the collarbone can also cause fractures. Babies can also have their clavicles damaged during vaginal deliveries.
- Acromioclavicular joint injuries: Injuries to this joint can cause immediate pain, swelling, and displacement of the clavicle.
- Osteoarthritis of the acromioclavicular joint: This is a joint under continuous use, so wear and tear is bound to happen, leading to degeneration of cartilage.
- Cancer: Though uncommon, cancer of the clavicle is possible and would cause acute collarbone pain.
Is There a Connection Between Jaw, Neck, Shoulder, and Collarbone Pain?
Overall, there is no direct connection that the jaw has with the neck, shoulder, and collarbone as it relates to pain, aside from perhaps some very unusual circumstance. If a full-on collision or injury from some other blunt force trauma has caused extensive damage to the collarbone and surrounding areas, pain could certainly radiate to other areas in close proximity.
Neck and collarbone pain, along with shoulder pain, can certainly exist simultaneously. The trapezius muscle connects these three parts, so damage to one could cause pain to be felt in the other areas.
Recognizing the Symptoms of a Broken Collarbone
Signs of a broken collarbone are:
- A limited range of motion; it hurts to move your arms and shoulders in certain ways.
- A slumping of the shoulder at the site of the break.
- The skin will bulge and bruise.
- A grinding feeling or sound is present. This isn’t the actual bone grinding against anything, but rather it’s an indication that air has entered the area. This condition is referred to as crepitus.
- A sudden, sharp pain when the break actually happens.
- A dull, constant ache that persists after the initial break.
Natural Treatment Options for Collarbone Pain
Treating a broken collarbone can be done naturally, and possibly with faster results than if no natural treatment was used. A typical collarbone injury takes anywhere from four to six weeks to heal. Some natural treatments to consider for healing are outlined below.
1. Drink Herbal Tea
Drink a comfrey and willow tea a few times throughout the day. Comfrey helps heal bones and tissues, and willow, which is what aspirin is derived from, helps to relieve pain.
2. Apply Arnica Gel
Arnica has been used for centuries to help heal bruises and inflammation, and to ease joint and muscle pain. Apply to the injured area a few times a day.
3. Apply Ice
An ice compress will help alleviate pain, swelling, and inflammation.
4. Eat a Calcium-Rich Diet
Calcium is essential to developing and maintaining strong bones.
Complications of Collarbone Pain
Most collarbone injuries heal without complications, but when they do occur can include the following:
- A lump in the bone: This can happen where the bone knits together, and it usually fades over time, but it can be permanent and visible because the collarbone sits so close to the skin.
- Delayed healing: Some injuries simply take longer to heal.
- Osteoarthritis: A break in the bone can lead to arthritis in these joints.
- Injury to the nerves and blood vessels: A broken collarbone’s jagged ends can injure vessels and nerves that are nearby. If you feel numbness in the surrounding area, see a doctor.
Tips to Prevent Collarbone Pain
After an injury to the clavicle, pain will ensue for the weeks that it takes to heal. To help prevent further pain to the injured area, follow these tips.
- Stay on any medication the doctor has prescribed for pain.
- Avoid wearing tight shirts and other clothing. Go shirtless if and when possible. For women, just don’t wear a bra.
- Use ice often to help bring down any swelling and inflammation.
- Lie down on your back as often as possible to help take the strain off the shoulders.
- Keep good posture.
- Allow yourself the time to heal and plan your life for the next month with this in mind.
Collarbone Pain: Aftercare
To ensure the collarbone heals properly, creating and sticking to an aftercare program is critical.
- Stay on the medication prescribed by your doctor.
- Limit activity, especially lifting and twisting motions.
- Use ice to keep swelling down.
- Do not use ibuprofen or naproxen for the first 24 hours after your injury, because they promote further bleeding.
- You might also experience collarbone pain from sleeping, so try to rest on your back for the first week, or until the pain isn’t limiting how you sleep.
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