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Swollen Collarbone

Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

Your collarbone, also known as your clavicle, is part of your skeletal system that connects your body to your arm and forms part of your shoulder joint. Being joined to the breastbone and shoulder blade your collarbone is involved in many ranges of movements. Because of the position of your collarbone it is common to have accidental injuries to it. Your collarbone is one bone that broken more often than any other bones in your body.

Causes of Swollen Collarbone

There are many reasons why you might have a swollen collarbone which can include:

  • Resulting from an infection
  • Inflammation that can occur in diseases like cancer
  • The most common reason for having a swollen collarbone is a breakage or fracture of your bone which usually happens when you fall and land on your shoulder. It can also happen if you fall on your outstretched arm but this does not happen that often.
  • Normally it is the middle of your collarbone that gets fractured and this is the area where you will see the swelling. The fracture or breakage can also happen at the outer third of your collarbone. This is the end where it joins your shoulder blade.
  • You could suffer a fracture or breakage at the end of your collarbone near your sternum but this very rarely happens.
  • In younger people these types of fractures are often not complete, which means that the fracture happens inside the piece of cartilage referred to as a growth plate. The outer layer of bone remains intact. This type of fracture is called a greenstick fracture and even though your collarbone does not fully break it can still cause a swollen collarbone. Dislocating your collarbone can also cause it to swell
  • Even though it is uncommon you can have a swollen collarbone from a joint infection from diseases like tuberculosis. This is especially true in people whose immune systems are not functioning as well because of AIDS or cancer.
  • Arthritis – this is where your joints become swollen, stiff, and painful and can sometimes cause a swollen collarbone.
  • Osteoarthritis – when a person has this medical condition it is because of the wear and tear on your joints and could cause the joint where your collar bone meets your shoulder blade causing your collarbone to be swollen.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – this is when the lining of your joints is attacked by your immune system and can cause a swollen collarbone.
  • Tumor of your collarbone – this is a rare medical condition and can cause your collarbone to be swollen. If there is a tumor it is most likely that the cancer that caused this tumor originated somewhere else in your body and spread. This would cause your lymph nodes to swell, which lie just above your collarbone.

Sometimes your swollen collarbone is not caused by a fracture or breakage but could be an enlargement in or around your collarbone or any accumulation of fluid. It can also be caused by soft tissue injury that affects your subcutaneous tissue and muscle and cause swelling over your collarbone making it appear your collarbone is swollen.

 Treatment for a Swollen Collarbone

There are many different ways that you can treat a swollen collarbone. How it is treated depends on what is causing your swollen collarbone.

Causes and treatment

  • Resulting from a fracture or breakage – this will normally involve immobilizing your arm by using a sling. Although the swelling may resolve itself in twenty-four hours it can take up to twelve weeks for the fracture to completely heal. In complicated cases like where the broken bone has pierced your skin you will usually be referred to an orthopedic specialist, who diagnosis and treats disorders, injuries, and condition of your skeletal system along with the joints, ligaments, and muscles associated with your skeleton, to have surgery done.
  • Greenstick fracture – it will heal without any special treatment.
  • From a joint infection – the joint is usually drained and then it is treated with antibiotics.
  • Arthritis or osteoarthritis – it is normally treated with a combination of rest and pain medication along with physiotherapy and sometimes surgery
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – this is treated with exercises like swimming and medication.
  • Tumors – with these types of cancerous tumors what treatment is used would depend on the specific type of cancer.

You can also place an ice pack on your swollen collarbone for ten minutes on and ten minutes off for an hour. You can also take non-inflammatory analgesics to help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling.

Swollen Collarbone Pictures

Collection of pictures of swollen collarbone…

swollen collarbone

swollen collarbone pictures

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