An Overview on a Sternoclavicular Joint Fracture (SC Fracture)
The clavicle (collarbone) is a long, curved bone making up a portion of the shoulder girdle, connecting the shoulder to the sternum (breastbone). A sternoclavicular joint fracture takes place when a break occurs in the clavicle or the sternum. The break can occur at either end of the clavicle. In most cases, the middle third of the clavicle bone is broken as this is the area that represents the thinnest part of the bone. Dr. Jeff Padalecki, orthopedic shoulder specialist in the Austin, Texas area, is highly trained and experienced at treating an SC fracture using either a non-surgical or surgical approach.
Fractures to the SC joint are often caused by direct trauma to the shoulder where the clavicle and breastbone reside. Sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents are common causes, as well as direct falls onto an outstretched arm or shoulder.
SC Fracture Symptoms
A sternoclavicular joint fracture will cause a number of symptoms, including pain, bruising, swelling, limited movement and a physical deformity. The deformity commonly resembles a bump underneath the skin and represents the break within the bone.
SC Fracture Diagnostic Testing
An SC fracture is commonly diagnosed with only a physical examination and a series of X-rays. Dr. Padalecki may recommend an MRI or CT scan to examine the injured joint in more detail to rule out other possible injuries to the surrounding structures.
SC Fracture Treatment
While conservative treatments, such as rest and ice, can be used to treat an SC fracture, most patients respond well to surgery. Surgical treatment is necessary in cases of an open fracture that has punctured the skin or if there is severe displacement of the bone. Most fractures that have at least a two-centimeter fragment overlap or shortening will require a surgical repair. Dr. Padalecki will use a small incision to enter the SC joint and evaluate the fracture location and extent of injury. In most cases, he will perform a reduction procedure, which essentially connects the broken bones. In more severe fracture cases, Dr. Padalecki will use a plate or other source of hardware to cover the fracture site. This helps stabilize the sternoclavicular joint fracture location and protects it while it heals.
SC Fracture Post-Op
Proper rest and rehabilitation is critical to good success and improvement of pain and function after any SC fracture surgery. Dr. Padalecki will prescribe a detailed physical therapy program that, if performed consistently and successfully, will help rehabilitate the injured shoulder. Most patients can resume normal activities within six months following surgery.
For more resources on sternoclavicular joint fractures, or for additional information on SC fracture treatment options, contact Dr. Jeff Padalecki, orthopedic shoulder specialist in the greater Austin, Texas communities.