Dr Duckworth answers the most common questions about what to expect during the recovery period and what you can do to ensure the best outcome.

Non-Union Clavicle Fracture: Recovering From Surgery

Dr Duckworth answers the most common questions about what to expect during the recovery period and what you can do to ensure the best outcome.

Q1. When I get home, how long will I need pain relief?
You will be given pain medication to take home, however most patients say that they don’t need anything stronger than Panadol after the first couple of days.

Q2. Can I sleep normally, or do I have to be careful about rolling over?
Your body will tell you which positions are most comfortable. If you are experiencing pain, you should change position.

Q3. What type of exercises should I be doing?
No formal exercise programme or physiotherapy is required but we recommend you start to use your arm as much as you can after surgery. The simple guide is: if it hurts, then don’t do it. We ask that you not lift anything heavy and that you avoid any movement above shoulder height or overhead.

Q4. How long will I need to wear a sling?
You will need to wear a sling for about a week after surgery. However you can take your arm out of the sling to dress, eat and drink. We recommend always using a sling when away from home for the first couple of weeks after surgery so people take care not to knock you.

Q5. How do I go about showering in the first few days?
You will be discharged from hospital with a waterproof dressing, so you can shower normally.

Q6. Can I let my hand hang freely or should I rest it on a pillow?
You can allow your arm either hang freely or rest it in a natural position if sitting. The sooner you return to your normal, natural movement the better.

Q7. When can I start to drive again?
You can start to drive a week after surgery so long as you feel confident that you can control the steering wheel in an emergency situation.

Q8. When can I return to work?
It depends on the type of work you do. If you work in an office you can return as soon as you feel ready – a couple of days after the surgery is not out of the question. For those whose work involves heaving lifting or overhead use of their arm, it is preferable to wait until x-rays show the fracture has healed.

Q9. What are the activities I should avoid for a while?
You should avoid heavy lifting, activities that involve using your arm above shoulder height, contact sport or any exercise, such as bike riding or skiing, which carries a risk of falling. Your clavicle needs to be fully healed before you return to these activities.

Q10. How long is the normal recovery period?
You can expect the clavicle to have healed anywhere between five to 12 weeks after surgery, but everyone is different. Most patients return to normal arm movement before this time.

For specific advice regarding clavicle fractures, please book an appointment with Dr David Duckworth on (02) 9806 3333

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