The collarbone in medical terminology is referred as clavicle. It is a long bone that lies horizontally near the neck area. One end of clavicle is attached with the shoulder blade and other end is attached to the sternum or breastbone, together it forms a part of shoulder girdle. The collarbone lies just above the first rib. There are two collarbones, the left and right above the first rib. This bone is easily palpable and is easily visible in thin persons.
A person may experience swelling and pain of the collarbone due to various reasons. The swelling can be caused by inflammation of the tissue around the collarbone or the bone itself can become swollen. Because of the location and position of the collarbone, it is susceptible to accidental injuries and strain; hence it is more prone to fracture.
What Are The Causes Of Swollen Collar Bone?
There are several reasons for swelling and pain in and around clavicle. Trauma, infection of the bone, infection of the tissue around the bone, disorder of bone, all can contribute in its swelling. Let us know the important causes for collarbone swelling.
- Injury: Injury, mainly accidental injury from car accidents, motor bike accidents, fall from height or direct blow over the clavicle all can cause swelling of the collarbone and the tissues attached to it. In case of severe impact there is increased possibility of collarbone fracture as well as inflammation of muscles and soft tissue around the collarbone. This all can cause swelling of the collarbone.
- Swollen lymph nodes: Many times the collar bone may appear swollen, but the actual swelling is of the lymph nodes that surround it. Lymph node swelling in this area occurs when there is infection in lungs, scalp or teeth and face.
- Infection of collar bone: Although rare infection of collar bone can cause swelling and pain. This infection is called osteomyelitis.
- Vitamin D deficiency: The deficiency of vitamin D in children causes a condition called Rickets. In this condition the ribs and even clavicle may get deformed. The deformed clavicle appears as swollen.
- Bone disorders: Bone disorders such as Paget’s disease and osteoarthritis or rheumatic arthritis can also cause swollen clavicle.
- Bone tumor: Collarbone tumor is rare, but a possibility as the cause for swelling of the bone. It can be mostly a metastatic bone swelling. Which means the cancer is somewhere else and it has spread to bones which may also include collarbone in some cases.
Symptoms Of Swollen Collar Bone
Swelling of collarbone symptoms are as follows:
- Pain in the area around the collarbone. Pain can be mild to severe.
- There is restriction in the movement of arm and shoulder joints because of pain in the collarbone.
- The feeling of numbness may radiate from collarbone to arm or to the sternal area.
- Person experiences severe pain and weakness, and he is not able to carry any item with heavy weight.
- The skin over clavicle becomes red and tender.
Treatment Options For Swollen Collar Bone
Treatment of swollen clavicle is to address and treat the underlying cause. For example:
- If the cause is acute injury, but not a fracture than the treatment to reduce swelling and pain is cold compression over the area, rest and anti-inflammatory medicines.
- If the cause of swelling is fracture of the collarbone, the best possible treatment for this bone is immobilization of the arm and use of a sling. When the arm is immobilized using a sling, it will help to fuse the fractured clavicle faster.
- In case if the swelling is caused due to arthritis of the bone, treatment consists of rest, use of anti-inflammatory medicines, to reduce swelling and pain. Often alternative treatment such as homeopathy is beneficial in decreasing the discomfort and pain caused in arthritis.
- Infection can be treated with antibiotic. Sometimes the swollen tissue may need to be drained or removed surgically. For example if the lymph node is swollen due to infection, it may need to be drained with a large bore needle in certain circumstances.
- In case of bone tumor, person may need radiation or chemotherapy treatment to kill the cancer cells.