Gravel Cyclist Down: Recovery from a Broken Clavicle – Part 3

Greetings readers. This is the third in my series of articles about dealing with a common injury that affects many cyclists; recovery from a broken clavicle.

Part 1 is HERE, part 2 is HERE.

 

Recovery Week 3

Recovery seems to be progressing well. Flexibility of my left shoulder continues to improve. At just over three weeks since the crash, extension of my left arm, with the starting point being at my side, is now at 90 degrees. Rib bruising has mostly subsided, and bruising around the site of the clavicle break is clearing well.

ClaviclePart3-2015-3However, the clavicle itself is prominently displaced and cosmetically doesn’t look so hot. Early in the week I sought the opinion of my orthopedic doctor in my homeland of Australia – email makes it very simple to send x-rays. His opinion was healing is progressing, and while cosmetically the clavicle won’t look terribly nice, functionally it should heal and perform as expected.

Thursday, I sought the opinion of a friend in the medical field locally with some experience in this area. A few facts; the two main types of treatment for clavicle fractures are surgical and simple immobilization. The former is typically used when the fracture is open or complicated like this one (see my x-ray below), particularly if there are functional or cosmetic reasons to fix it. Usually, surgery is done soon after an accident since with time healing begins which can complicate good reduction.

ClaviclePart3-2015-1
Clavicle break 2015, x-ray taken immediately after the crash. I hope nobody pukes 🙂

That may be the case now. I am virtually pain free, although I have not tried to support my body with my upper left extremity (as in both arms, a two arm push-up). However, I have a follow up appointment with a local orthopedic surgeon for next week, who may agree that healing has begun, meaning it may be better to watch and wait. The primary complication now would be failed or delayed healing, which clinically seems less likely. Cosmetically, I don’t really care what it looks like, provided there’s no hassles with simple things such as wearing a seatbelt, or lugging around a backpack.

ClaviclePart3-2015-2
My 2013 break, taken immediately after that crash. This injury healed well sans surgery.

Sleeping

Continues to be a hurdle. I am almost completely free of pain, but sleeping on my back, with the limitation of sleeping on one side isn’t very restful. Still, it could be worse.

 

Diet

I mentioned in my last post on this subject, I was ingesting calcium derived from plant sources only, such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, etc. However, I want my recovery to be speedy and successful. I’ve temporarily broken my own rule and have begun taking a Calcium supplement with Vitamin D to help with absorption. Every bit of placebo helps.

 

Exercise

ClaviclePart3-2015-4I have upped the ante with walking, covering a minimum of five miles every day, at least five times a week. A day or two after my last recovery posting, I was feeling extremely motivated, and managed a new record of 13.6 miles in one session. Now I can say I’ve walked a half-marathon! That experience has given me new respect for runners.

Walking a half marathon non-stop was tiring, so I can only imagine the effort of running a half or full marathon.

The stationary bicycle trainer that usually collects dust in my house saw some use this week; five hours over three sessions.

Trainers are boring, but turning the legs over felt good, and both hands were able to comfortably rest on the tops of the handlebars. The broken clavicle felt a little strange at first, but the sensations were much better by the end of each session, sans pain.

Fingers crossed for no surgery, and continuation of my healing!

Thanks for reading.

4 comments on “Gravel Cyclist Down: Recovery from a Broken Clavicle – Part 3

  1. Glad to hear recovery is going well JOM. Wish I had know about the 14 mile hike, I would have joined you 🙂

  2. Also glad to see your recovery is going well. Personally, I’m GLAD I didn’t know about your half-marathon-plus hike… as my kids label jaunts like that, that’s a death march! But glad that you could do it, and that it instilled respect for runners. ALL endurance athletes deserve one another’s respect –. as one of my orthopaedists said after one of my tendon ruptures (in response to me asking how to prevent them), “You won’t get these things if you’d stick to sitting on a barstool. But, then again, you’d probably also have plenty of other less-temporary health issues if that was your recreation of choice.” Looking forward to Installment #4!

  3. Sounds like you’re in a much better mind set than me. I broke my clavicle and shoulder blade 5 weeks ago and I am still in pain and the clavicle still hasn’t even started to fix but I am told to wait yet another 4 weeks. I was in the middle of training for an ironman so you can imagine how depressing this is! I can’t even face exercise at the moment. Your brake looks worse than mine as well.
    How is it now?

    1. Hi Elliott,

      I never did write a Part 5 explaining how well my recovery went, sorry about that. What you explain is pretty normal for some folks. I have a friend whose clavicle never fused after several years! She was forced to ultimately have surgery. Give it another four weeks and hope for fusion – you really want to avoid surgery if possible. I found the pain of post surgery much worse than the pain of the actual break.

      Mine is perfectly healed with a strong join, even thought there was a large gap between the break. It doesn’t look pretty and I have a lovely spiked collarbone, but it is fully functional with absolutely no pain. That poor clavicle has been broken, plated, de-plated and broken a further three times afterwards. Maybe the nerves are dead? 🙂

      Try fast walking… that is what I have always done… it beats sitting around the house.

      Good luck with your recovery, keep us posted.

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