Collar Bone Pain

The More Common Causes Of Collar Bone Pain

Most of us fortunately never suffer from collar bone pain. This type of pain is most often encountered if the collar bone itself is fractured, or if there is an injury to the shoulder, ribs or chest area.

Collar bone pain can also be a result of a bone disease or disorder. The anatomical term for the collar bone is the clavicle and both terms will be used in this article.

Most Common Cause - The most common cause of collar bone pain is a fracture of the bone itself. In most instances, the collar bone is reasonably well protected, by our posture if nothing else, but if directly struck with a hard blow, a fracture can occur.

The collar bone can also be fractured if a bending tension is applied, especially if by a violent motion. As such, it is one of the more common sports injuries.

Falling on an outstretched arm or falling hard on the shoulder can sometimes create sufficient tension on the collar bone to cause it to fracture.

Shoulder Problems - There are three primary bones which come together at the shoulder, forming joints. These bones are held together by muscles, ligaments and tendons. These bones are:

The clavicle (collar bone)

The scapula or shoulder blade

The humerus, the large bone of the upper arm

One of the joints, formed by the clavicle and the scapula, is particularly susceptible to becoming dislocated if struck, or if pressure is applied. This situation is commonly known as a dislocated shoulder and, next to a collar bone fracture, is probably the second most common cause of collar bone pain.

Flail Chest - Another cause of pain is flail chest, which can be caused by one of several kinds of injury. In each case however, a part of the chest wall has either been forced into an abnormal position, or moves in an abnormal matter.

The chest wall moves naturally with every breath we take, but flail chest is an abnormal, and usually exaggerated movement. Most incidents of flail chest are due to accidental or non-accidental injury.

Osteomyelitis - Collar bone pain can also be experienced when a disease or other non-injury type of disorder affects either the collar bone or the chest or shoulder area.

Osteomyelitis is one such disease, and is an infection within the bone itself. While osteomyelitis is not all that common in the sense that few ever suffer from it, some do, and there are a host of causes of this sometimes painful disease.

Osteomyelitis can be brought about by a viral infection, as the result of an injury, a bacterial infection, syphilis, a fungal infection, and inflammation of cellular structures, cellulitis.

There are some diseases, as well, which can bring about the condition. Of course, osteomyelitis can affect nearly any bone in the body, not just the collar bone, but the collar bone, especially if it has been injured, can host this disease.

Osteolysis - Osteolysis is another disorder that can cause collar bone pain.

Osteolysis attacks the acromioclavicular joint, the joint between the clavicle and the scapula. This joint does have some motion, though not a great deal. Osteolysis is a softening and dissolution of the bones at the ends. The bones can also lose calcium and become weaker due to osteolysis.

Over a period of time, up to an inch of bone loss at the acromioclavicular joint can occur. The cause of this condition is not always known, though injury or repetitive motion such as encountered in weightlifting (especially the bench press) are believed to be contributing factors. 

Rheumatoid arthritis or infection can also be a cause of this condition. Pain accompanying the condition is most often felt in the shoulder or on the segment of the collar bone right next to the shoulder.

Treatment for a broken clavicle consists primarily of rest and keeping the bone motionless while it is healing. In the case of osteomyelitis and osteolysis, anti-inflammatory medication as well as other medications which allow the bone to rebuild itself are generally prescribed. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.