Depending on the location of the clavicle fracture, in which part of the bone the damage appears in relation to the coracoclavicular ligaments (close to the shoulder), is classified by Neer (Bishop et al., 2015).
The clavicle is part of the shoulder girdle and moves with every movement in the shoulder and when breathing in and out. It is stabilized by ligaments and connected through muscles to the neck, the scapula, ribs and sternum. There is potential for complications as a displaced clavicle fragments can injure structures in close proximity because of the sharp edges of the fracture (major underlying vessels, the lung, and the brachial plexus).
Fractures and injuries of the clavicle are most often caused by direct blows to the shoulder: during a fall, motorised vehicle accidents, fall onto outstretched arm amongst others.
In most clavicle fractures, conservative treatment is sufficient, with letting the bone heal naturally; supporting it with a simple arm-sling and to hold the bones in an anatomical position.
Surgery is only necessary, when the fracture is severe, with the bone breaking through the skin or when the bone fractures dislocate and do not stay in line.
Bishop J.Y. et al., 2015, Intra- and Interobserver Agreement in the Classification and Treatment of Distal Third Clavicle Fractures, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 43(4)