Clavicle Fractures in the NFL
With football season in full swing, injuries are once again increasingly common. Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback, suffered a broken clavicle this past Sunday after being sacked by a Philadelphia Eagles linebacker. Fractures of the clavicle, or collarbone, are among the most common injuries seen at all levels of play. The clavicle is a long tubular bone that connects the arm to the body and it most often breaks in the middle, but it can also break at either end.
Clavicle fractures, or general injuries to the arm, typically result from a direct blow to the shoulder or a fall onto an outstretched arm. Individuals with a broken clavicle usually experience inability to raise the arm due to pain, a sagging shoulder, or a grinding sensation from the broken pieces rubbing together.
The good news, such as in Romo’s case, is that most clavicle fractures can be treated without surgery. Even though there is a fracture, the bones can stay in relatively normal alignment with minimal ligament or muscle damage. Treatments involve utilizing a sling for comfort, ice, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and avoidance of sports for three to four months. If the bones are displaced, surgery may be the quickest route to a full recovery. Surgery involves securing the bone fragments back in place with a plate and screws.
A recent study conducted by Dr. Hoenig examines the treatment of clavicle fractures in the NFL. He and his colleagues found that athletes with a displaced clavicle did best with surgery and could often return after about eight weeks. Those treated without surgery took longer to heal and had a higher risk of breaking again. According to ESPN, Romo’s injury this past weekend was the second break of his left clavicle during his career.
If you think you or your young Tony Romo have a broken collar bone, be sure to get an X-ray and see an orthopaedic surgeon as soon as possible.