Clavicle dislocation is a condition in which the collarbone or the clavicle gets separated from the joints forms at either of its attached ends. Dislocation of the Clavicle is commonly an injury and can occur due to various causes, the most common is a direct blow on the shoulder.
Clavicle dislocation is a mostly traumatic condition and is very painful. The injury to the Clavicle often involves injury to the surrounding structures, ligament tears and other muscle injuries as well.
Collarbone or clavicle is the bone that extends from the breastbone (sternum) to the shoulders on both sides of the body. The collarbone forms a joint with the sternum on the inner or medial side, while it forms a joint with a part of the shoulder joint on the outer or the lateral side.
Types of Clavicle Dislocation
Dislocation of the clavicle at the outer end, where it is connected to the shoulder joint is a more common type of clavicle dislocation and is also known as shoulder separation or acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) injury.
Sternoclavicular Joint Dislocation:
Dislocation of the clavicle at the inner end, where it is connected to the sternum, is also known as sternoclavicular (SC) joint dislocation and is a fairly rare injury.
In case of sternoclavicular joint injuries causing clavicle dislocation, the clavicle can get displaced in both the directions.
- The clavicle dislocation can occur due to pressure on the shoulder being pushed backwards, which turns the collarbone towards the front of the sternum (anterior dislocations). These are more common and occur when the shoulder receives a blow from the front.
- In other cases, if the shoulder is forced forward, the collarbone can get displaced backwards (posterior dislocations).
These are less common and occur when the shoulder receives a blow from the back.
Depending on the area affected, the symptoms of clavicle dislocation may range from mild to severe and also vary from person to person. For simple understanding, Clavicle dislocation can be categorized into grades, which depend on the severity of the injury and the extent of tissue damage.
The milder cases of Clavicle dislocation include those, in which the ligaments are mildly injured with minimal dislocation of the collarbone. The moderate cases or types of Clavicle dislocation may include completely torn ligaments with considerable dislocation of the clavicle and severe cases may include those with complete dislocation of the collarbone, resulting in severe symptoms.
Understanding the types, causes and symptoms of Clavicle dislocation is important. Treatment of clavicle dislocation depends on the causes and the type of dislocation and a proper therapeutic regimen must be planned for efficient recovery.
Causes of Clavicle Dislocation
The most common causes of clavicle dislocation are trauma to the shoulder joint or the upper part of the body. Some of the traumatic causes of Clavicle dislocation include:
- Sports Injury Causing Clavicle Dislocation – Clavicle dislocation can commonly occur as a sports injury, particularly when the player is hit hard on the shoulder. This can result when the player receives a direct blow on the shoulder, either by being hit by someone or by falling on the ground, where the shoulder hits the ground receiving a direct blow.
- Accidents and Collarbone Dislocation – Direct falls on the shoulders result in shoulder or Clavicle dislocation. This can result when a person falls after losing balance or falls from a height and the shoulder hits hard on the ground.
As the soft tissues, ligaments and muscles get stretched, torn or damaged, the collarbone can get displaced from its position resulting in dislocation.
Symptoms of Clavicle Dislocation
Clavicle dislocation usually occurs as a traumatic event and often results in immediate symptoms that may be related to the injury. Common symptoms of Clavicle dislocation include
Pain – Pain is the most common symptom of Clavicle dislocation. Severe pain can be noted in the shoulder area (in case of injury to the outer end of the collarbone) or the sternal area (in case of injury to the inner end of the collarbone).
A sign of Injury – Swelling and bruising is a common symptom of Clavicle dislocation. The shoulder area is often swollen and tender to touch. A bruised, bluish-black appearance may be noted, particularly in cases of a direct blow to the shoulder causing collarbone dislocation. The entire area from the shoulder to the collarbone and sternum must be evaluated as it may show signs of injury and inflammation.
Diagnosis of Clavicle Dislocation
Clavicle dislocation can be diagnosed with the help of history regarding any previous injury, falls and sports activities just prior to the complaints. Clinical examination often reveals signs of inflammation and injury to the clavicle, shoulder or upper body. The range of motion and reflexes are evaluated to understand the severity of the injury and possible causes of the condition.
If Clavicle dislocation is suspected, certain investigations are performed to confirm the diagnosis of collarbone dislocation and to rule out other conditions. Some investigations for diagnosis of Clavicle dislocation include:
X-rays – X-ray of the shoulder joint and of the ribs can help to evaluate any damage to the clavicle or collarbone. Any displacement or Clavicle dislocation can be noticed well in the X-ray. It can also help to detect any other associated injury, like fractures or problems with the bony structures.
In some cases, CT scan may be advised to note further details, if required.
An MRI scan helps to study the soft tissue structures and helps to detect any abnormality around the collarbone and shoulder. Ligaments injuries, muscles tears and other damage to cartilage or soft tissues can be detected.
Surgery for Clavicle Dislocation
Surgery for Clavicle dislocation may include procedures to correct the torn ligaments, repair of the injured structures and stabilization of the injured joint.
Shoulder arthroscopy for Clavicle dislocation is a procedure in which an instrument is inserted through a small incision, which can help to visualize the area and repair the structures. It is also used as a diagnostic modality for some cases, in which it helps to detect abnormalities and changes in the affected part.
Surgical procedures considered for treatment of clavicle dislocation and degenerative arthritis includes resection arthroplasty. This is done to prevent the surfaces of bones from rubbing against each other and reduce friction to protect the joint.