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Orthopedic Services
Glendale Adventist Medical Center
1509 Wilson Terrace
Glendale, CA 91206
Ph: (818) 409-8000

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I broke my collar bone when I tripped over the cat and fell against the coffee table. The surgeon put a metal plate in there and everything works fine but there's a lot of numbness along the bone and down into my chest. Is that from the fracture or from the surgery?

Fractures of the clavicle (collar bone) are very common in all age groups from young to old. Falls, motor vehicle accidents, and sports injuries are the usual causes. With more and more young people involved in skiing and snowboarding and an increased number of seniors remaining active, experts predict more yet to come. As a result, surgeons have taken a closer look at how these injuries are treated. Conservative care with a sling or harness is being replaced with surgery for the more complex fractures. Surgery usually involves making an incision and using wires, plates, or nails to realign and stabilize the bone. A longer incision is needed if a metal plate is used. That increases the risk of cutting through tiny nerves to the skin around the clavicle. This is especially true if the incision is made along the top of the clavicle (rather than along the front of it). Wires can also unravel and poke into soft tissue structures including nerves and blood vessels. Nails placed inside the bone are flexible but can migrate (move) pinching or compressing nerves. Ask your surgeon about this numbness. It may go away on its own in time. But there may be something he or she can do to alleviate this symptom for you.


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