Injuring yourself is never going to be a fun experience and getting back to full health can be quite a drag! Injuries which are on the more serious side of the scale will often require surgery and then the patient may still have a long road to recovery ahead of them. Being able to treat an injury without surgery is generally going to be the preferred option of many patients. In some instances the choice to operate or not can be a tough one.
The clavicle is a common place to experience an injury, especially a fracture, and deciding whether to operate on it or not can be tricky. The clavicle forms part of the shoulder and aids in the suspension of the arm. It is also referred to as the collarbone. Clavicle injuries are most commonly experienced during bicycle or automobile accidents and also through contact sports. It is so prone to damage because it there isn’t a large amount of muscle in this area, meaning it has less protection from impact.
When a clavicle fracture occurs it has to be evaluated thoroughly to determine how best to move forwards. If the wound is open then the need to operate is dramatically increased due to the heightened risk of infection. There are several other factors that contribute to the decision to operate, such as the age of the patient, existing medical conditions of the patient, the expected outcomes in terms of a return to full function and also how healthy and active the patient currently is.
How demanding the patient is when it comes to the expected outcome is one of the biggest factors. If a patient needs to get back to full function in a short amount of time then operating on the clavicle is generally the best option. However, if a patient is less demanding in this aspect then a non-operative treatment plan can be followed. When the surgical path is followed a patient can expect that the chance of strength loss will be less and that they will experience less pain than they would with a non-surgical recovery. That’s not to say that surgery doesn’t come with several risks, such as scarring, infection, additional damage to nerves and the normal risks that come with using general anesthesia.
If surgery is the chosen option then the specialist will normally utilise screws and plates to hold the fracture in place. The placement of screws and plates in the body can cause irritation and is an additional problem to consider. Choosing the very best orthopedic surgeon you can to perform surgery on a clavicle fracture should always be your priority on your journey to recovery!