How to Help Daughter Who Broke Her Clavicle.

Updated on August 11, 2008
J.H. asks from Minot, ND
13 answers

My four year old fell down my friend's stairs and fractured her clavicle. Her arm is in a simple sling. Her arm kept falling out of the sling so I put a safety pin by the elbow and now it stays in! We are putting ice (actually using a small bag of frozen corn) a few times a day. But her shoulder is so small it is hard to keep on. We are giving her tylenol every four hours for the pain. Any other suggestions? Her shoulder is much lower than the normal shoulder. Is this normal? She sleeps sitting up because it is too painful to lay down. She is doing ok as long as she has pain medicine but nights are hard. Any advice on how to care for a four year old in pain? She is not suppose to move her arm at all-that is hard to do! How long should she expect to be in pain? She is usually a very sweet girl but has become angry and crabby obviously because it hurts. We go to the doctor in three days. Six years of being a mom and this is our first emergency room experience so it has shook me up a bit. If you are a praying mom please pray for her to heal quickly and for me to have the patience to take care of her with love. Christ is faithful! Thank you so much.

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answers from Rochester on

You can use a second piece of fabric to tie around her body to keep the arm in place. The fabric would be horizontal, and go around her back, go over the arm with the sling, and under the arm without the sling. Then just tie it in front where it won't bother her. This is how I learned to do slings when I was a Med Tech in the Air Force, and it does work well. She won't have tons of mobility in her arm, but she will heal quicker, be in less pain, and will probably still be able to use her hand. Also, make sure the sling is supporting the elbow so it keeps the pressure off of her shoulder. If this is unclear, e-mail me and I will try to send you a link of a picture to show you what I am talking about. Good luck and God Bless!



answers from Minneapolis on

As someone who has broken her clavicle and also had a teenage son who broke his, I feel your and your daughter's pain. Difficult as it may be, the thing that helped my son from moving his arm too much was to actually use an ace bandage to wrap around his torso and immobilize his arm next to his body. The thing you want to try to prevent is having the bone dislodge as that will cause a permanent "bump" in the shoulder. As for sleeping, maybe try having her propped up on several pillows to lessen the gravitational weight. I am by no means an expert, but I hope some of this will help.
D. M. (mother of 7, grandmother of 15)



answers from Cedar Rapids on

My daughter who's 6 just broke hers about six months ago! Bounceing on the bed and hit the dresser! But we also went to the er and come home in a sling! The worst thing for her! She actuly did more damage in the sling! We ended going back to her doctor and they gave her a brace that wrapped under both arms to pull her shoulders back! It helped out so much and it releved her pain after about a week! She had to ware it all the time for about a month! But it helped us out so much! As for her not using her arm maybe light movement for a week but she needs to move it to keep the muscle up! I like you it was our first trip it totaly shook both of us up! But kids rebound so much faster than adults! So my suggestion is take them to your regular doctor for an new under arm brace i see most others call it a figure eight brace! But it trully works! Good luck and yes my prayers are with you!



answers from Milwaukee on

My now 9yo daughter broke her clavicle 3 years ago also. The ER sent her home in just a sling as well, but refered us to see an orthopedic surgeon/dr as well for follow up visits. He put her in one of the figure 8 devices. If you have not already seen an orthopedic doctor, you may want to, they are the specialists with these types of injuries, and they will make sure that it heals as straight as possible so that their posture is not compromised later on. Good luck!



answers from Omaha on

Hi J.,

Three of my four children have broken their collarbones. I am surprised that your doctor put her in a sling as opposed to a figure 8 sling that pulls both shoulders back and is very supportive. Each of my children wore this very same type of sling, as lately as two years ago when my daughter broke hers during a football game. My two oldest could tell me that it was much better when they were in the figure 8 sling than when they didn't have it on, for example, when bathing. I would ask your doctor for this type of sling. It seemed to make it much easier on them. All three of my children were treated at Children's Hospital in Omaha.

This particular bone, when broken, is very painful. Ice and consistent tylenol/motrin should help but be prepared for her to have pain for some time. Any movement of her shoulders will bring pain, which is why using the other type of sling (figure 8) which immobilizes the shoulder movement is so helpful.

I too, am a praying mom. I will keep you and your little one in my prayers.



answers from Appleton on

Check around sporting good stores or websites. I do Martial Arts and found some ice packs that velcro on. I have one that is shaped like a small boot that works great for foot and ankle injuries and I think you can them that fit the shoulder, however size might be a problem. I know you can buy soft ice packs that bend to shape and some come with a fabric bag that has velcro on them the keep them in place. Ice the shoulder as much as you can, it takes the inflamation out. Tylenol helps with pain but not inflamation, talk with your a doctor or nurse at her ped's office she may be able to take ibuprofen for the pain and inflamation. Tiger Balm, similar product to Ben Gay, is used by Martial Artists for injuries. I don't know how it works but it does, it helps to heal injuries and will take the soreness out of her muscles. You can purchase it through Martial Arts schools or at health food stores or alternative medicine shops. Keep icing it even after the bone is healed because muscles are also injured when a bone is broken and can be painful while they heal. Ice, Tiger Balm, and Ibuprofen may be the best way to heal her injury. Although heat may feel better, it also can increase inflamation and swelling in sore muscles.


answers from Green Bay on

I broke my clavicle in the 8th grade as well, and remember it being very painful.

To help with sleep, you might want to prop the end of her mattress up so she's in a more upright position, or if you have a reclining chair let her sleep in that with lots of pillows to cushion her. It was a good 4 weeks before I was able to really move around well after breaking mine, and sleeping in a mostly upright position helped a lot.

Prayers and hugs for you and your family!



answers from Milwaukee on

Hi J.!
I work as a physical therapy assistant so I know a little something about what you're going through. What I can tell you is that kids heal very fast so hopefully your little one will be feeling better soon. Her pain will get better every day. If the fracture was not displaced (out of alignment) the doctor will probably let her start using her arm in just a few weeks. Ice would really help her pain. Sometimes the frozen veggies don't stay cold long enough. What you might try is making a gel pack out of water and rubbing alcohol. You just take 2 cups of water and about 3/4 cup of alcohol and put it in 2 ziplock bags and freeze. The alcohol keeps the water from freezing all the way and they stay cold for at least 20 minutes. Try keeping the ice on with a loose ace wrap. Might help her sleep if you do it before bed. The more you can have her upright to sleep the better. Try using a big wedge or lots of firm pillows. Sending lots of prayers your way. Hang in there; this will soon be just a memory and your daughter will be her happy self again.



answers from Appleton on

I'm sorry I don't have answers to your specific questions, but I do have a suggestion:

Give her a toy with a bandage similar to her own.

I was given a stuffed-puppy with a band-aid on its nose when I had my tonsilectomy at age 4 and loved that toy.

My niece broke her left leg when she was 4, and I gave her a puppy that I had wrapped a strip of gauze around its left leg to look "cast-like". She's now 11 and still snuggles that puppy.

It is a cuddly comfort, and taking her mind off her own pain by trying to care for the friend with the same ailment may make recovery not seem so long. Best of luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with the person who mentioned using motrin. It works soooo much better for my boys. Be sure to get the okay from your doctor, but our doctors have recommended that when the pain is strong (strong enough to be interfering with sleep is a good indicator at our house) you can alternate motrin and tylenol so you are doing a dose every three hours.
6am - motrin
9am - tylenol
noon - motrin
3pm - tylenol
That way as the motrin is wearing off she'll have some tylenol in her system to take the edge off until she's due for another dose of motrin.
With pain you need to stay on top of it and not wait until she is really hurting to give her the next dose. By then it will take a long time to get it back under control. Her doctor would be a good one to ask how long to keep her on meds to reduce the pain. Then come up with a written schedule on when to give her pain medinine and stick with it for as long as the doctor recommends. I imagine she'll only need it a few days.
I generally don't like to do too much medicine, but when it interfers with them sleeping or functioning as a kid should (playing, learning, etc) I think it is okay to use them.
Hope that helps and I hope she recovers quickly. I'll keep her in my prayers!



answers from Minneapolis on

My 6yr.old had a hairline fracture on her forearm last fall which isn't as bad but it definately is a pain. She was also in a sling. I'd say my daughter was in horrible pain just the first night, tossed and turned in her sleep and then it was extrememly sore for a week or so. She didn't listen and didn't keep it in a sling that was hard to make her keep it protected in the sling. I guess I don't have much advise other than kids do heal really fast and it was only a problem for us for like a 1-2 weeks. I was persistant and took her to a orthopedic specialist when I felt the first doctor didn't do much for us. I would just keep your daughter as comfortable as possibly and try Motrin if Tylenol isn't doing the trick for us Motrin always works better and lasts longer.



answers from Minneapolis on

I would also suggest a Motrin/Tylenol rotation every 3 hours. Our pediatrician recommends that method for my daughter's chronic ear infections. It really seems to work, so I would definitely consider it.

Also, I have some gel packs that you can freeze OR microwave depending on what you are using it for, and it works amazing. It is from Target, and it is in a blue cloth cover with a pretty big velcro strap which I think would work great for keeping it on your daughter's shoulder. I used it when I was pregnant on my belly to stop the itching, and it almost fit around my belly (almost), so I think it would definitely be long enough to wrap around her body and keep it on. It also stays cold for quite a while - I bought 2 so that when one was done, I could get the other one from the freezer and rotate them. I think they are about $10 a piece... They are totally worth it as a mom since you never know when you'll need them. I keep one cold and one in a drawer that I can heat up.

I am sending prayers your way! If you have any questions, let me know! Good luck!


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

I broke my clavicle when I was in 8th grade and remember it well. The first few days were horrible. It hurt to do anything! After that it wasn't too bad unless I moved it a lot.

I hope her pain lessens quickly. I will keep her and you in my prayers!

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