A distal clavicle fracture is a fracture (break) in the distal third of the clavicle (collarbone). This occurs after a specific injury and can be initially be mistaken for an acromioclavicular sprain (“separated shoulder”) on a physical examination.
Most displaced distal clavicle fractures do not heal on their own without surgical intervention. They are associated with injury to the coracoclavicular ligaments, thus allowing significant displacement and non-healing of the fracture. Significantly displaced and open (when the bone breaks through the skin) fractures require surgery to prevent infection, restore the proper bony alignment of the clavicle, and promote healing. Patient lifestyle factors, such as smoking, can also prevent normal healing.