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What to Do About Pain Where the Shoulder Meets the Collarbone

Jun 12, 2021

What to Do About Pain Where the Shoulder Meets the CollarboneWhether you’ve recently been in a car accident or fell and landed on your shoulder, an injury to the shoulder can cause pain at the collarbone as well. An injury to the collarbone can also cause shoulder pain because these two parts of the body are connected by cartilage. The shoulder bone, also known as the scapula, connects to the collarbone, or clavicle, through this cartilage joint. Damage to the shoulder, joint, or collarbone can all cause you pain and you may need to see a shoulder doctor to determine the specific cause so you can begin the most appropriate treatment.

Diagnosing Shoulder and Collarbone Pain

A sudden car accident injury, sports injury, or fall can cause sudden and intense pain in your shoulder and collarbone area. The most common reasons for shoulder and collarbone pain are either a fractured clavicle or joint damage. When you meet with a shoulder doctor about your pain, it will help to know how you sustained the injury that is causing you pain so they can identify the source of the pain and create an individualized treatment plan specific to your health needs and goals.

Car Accident Injury

Car accidents can lead to shoulder and collarbone injuries because of the placement of the seatbelt across the shoulder and chest. The seat belt is a safety feature designed to prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle during a crash. However, you can still get injured from a seat belt, especially if it isn’t in the proper place or the impact of the car accident was too strong. The force of impact may cause you to strain against the seat belt, putting a lot of pressure on your shoulder and collarbone area.

Sports Injury

A direct hit during a high-contact sport like football can lead to a dislocated shoulder or fractured collarbone. People who play contact sports are at a greater risk for sports injury to bones and joints because the force of impact from another player’s body against yours can cause serious damage. If you get tackled in a football game and land on your shoulder, it can damage the ball and socket joint, the cartilage that connects your collarbone and shoulder, or even send radiating shock to the collarbone itself.

Slip and Fall Injury

Accidents happen and shoulder or collarbone injuries are unfortunately common with slips and falls. It is a natural instinct to put your hands and arms out to brace yourself if you slip and fall. However, if you land on your outstretched arms and hands, it can send a jolt up to your shoulders that can cause a dislocation or fracture. Falling directly on your shoulder can cause a dislocation or fracture, while falling on outstretched arms can also put pressure on your collarbone that can lead to a fracture.

Signs of a Joint Injury

It is possible to injure your shoulder joint without actually breaking any bones. The ligaments that support the joints in your shoulder and near the collarbone can tear or become separated. This can cause a misalignment of the collarbone or shoulder and you will likely experience a lot of pain and tenderness in the area. You may also experience a torn rotator cuff, which is a type of shoulder joint injury. If you have this type of injury, you may have difficulty putting pressure on your shoulder, like if you tend to sleep on your side. You may also notice severe pain, tenderness, and even weakness in the area.

Signs of a Fracture

You might ask, “do I have a dislocated shoulder or a broken collarbone?” If you have a broken collarbone then you will likely know right away something is very wrong because of the intense pain. The pain typically also gets worse if you try to move your shoulder at all. Other common signs of a collarbone fracture include swelling and bruising in the area, as well as tenderness to the touch. You may also experience stiffness in your arm because of avoiding certain movements that made the pain worse.

Treating Shoulder and Collarbone Pain

When it comes to treating shoulder and collarbone pain, our shoulder doctors at AICA Orthopedic work to address the root cause of your pain and use state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans to get a clear picture of the affected area. They will also provide you with an individualized treatment plan so you can get the comprehensive care you deserve.


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