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Home :: Collarbone Dislocation At Shoulder Joint

Collarbone Dislocation At Shoulder Joint

An injury in which adjoining bones of the clavicle (collarbone) are displaced from their normal position and no longer touch each other. A minor dislocation is called a subluxation.


  • Clavicle, sternum (breastbone) and scapula (shoulder blade).
  • Ligaments that hold the clavicle to the sternum and the scapula.
  • Soft tissue in the injury area, including nerves, periosteum (covering of bone), blood vessels and muscles.


  • Direct fall on the tip of the shoulder.
  • Pulling or jerking on the arm.
  • Falling on an outstretched hand or flexed elbow (common in football and polo).
  • End result of a severe clavicle sprain.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Excruciating pain in the collarbone-shoulder area at the time of injury.
  • Loss of shoulder function.
  • Severe pain when attempting to move the tip of the shoulder.
  • Visible deformity if the dislocated bones have locked in the dislocated position. Bones may spontaneously reposition themselves and leave no deformity, but damage is the same.
  • Tenderness over the dislocation.
  • Swelling and bruising over the injury.
  • Numbness or paralysis in the arm below the dislocation caused by pressure on blood vessels or nerves

How is the diagnosis of a shoulder dislocation made?

Diagnosis of a shoulder dislocation is usually quite apparent just by talking to a patient and examining their joint. Patients must be examined to determine if there is any nerve or blood vessel damage. This should be done prior to reduction (repositioning) of the shoulder dislocation. X-rays should be obtained to check for any fracture around the joint, and to determine the pattern of the shoulder dislocation.


Follow your doctor's instructions. These instructions are supplemental.

  • At home, continue ice massage 3 or 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time. Fill a large styrofoam cup with water and freeze. Tear a small amount of foam from the top so ice protrudes. Massage firmly over the injured area in a circle about the size of a softball.
  • After 24 to 48 hours, apply heat instead of ice, if it feels better. Use heat lamps, hot soaks, hot showers or heating pads.
  • Massage gently and often to provide comfort and decrease swelling.
  • Wrap the injured shoulder with an elasticized bandage between treatments.

Home Diet

  • Drink only water before surgery or manipulation to correct the dislocation. Solid food in your stomach makes vomiting while under general anesthesia more hazardous.
  • During recovery, eat a well-balanced diet that includes extra protein, such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, milk and eggs. Increase fiber and fluid intake to prevent constipation that may result from decreased activity.
  • Build your overall strength and muscle tone with a conditioning program appropriate for your sport.
  • Warm up adequately before physical activity.
  • Wear shoulder pads during contact sports to protect the shoulder-clavicle area from injury.
  • Avoid contact sports if treatment does not restore a strong, stable shoulder.

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