Collarbone pain can be considered as pain arising from the clavicle or it can be from surrounding tissues. Pain from the condition in the chest and abdomen can also spread to the shoulder and the outer part of the collar. Collarbone pain can be seen as shoulder pain and sometimes neck pain. The most common causes of collarbone pain are related to injuries. However, neck pain can come with or without injury, slowly or suddenly.
Collarbone pain can also radiate to the shoulder, causing pain in the collar and shoulder area, especially if the pain is caused by a wound such as a fall. You may also feel an increase in neck pain and shortness of breath. This is because when you take a deep breath, your chest expands, which can cause the movement of your collar. Severe neck pain should be examined by a physician as soon as possible. Pain that lasts more than a day or two should also be evaluated.
In rare cases, neck pain may be due to undiagnosed adverse conditions. Lack of diagnosis and treatment can lead to serious complications. Once the underlying cause is found, it is important to follow a treatment plan with you and your healthcare professional structure specifically for you to reduce the risk of possible complications including:
- Death due to a heart attack or ruptured spleen
- Permanent disability if a fracture of the neck does not heal properly
- Sepsis due to infection
As you feel the upper part of your chest, your clavicle is easily exposed because it is close to your skin. This proximity makes the clavicle more prone to trauma such as fractures, arthritis, and infections. There are many different collar functions. Combined with several different muscles, it keeps the scapula in place, enabling the hand to move freely. The clavicle also serves as a protection for the upper arm nerve passage.
What can cause pain in collarbone and neck and shoulder
Collarbone pain can be caused by a fracture, arthritis, bone infection, or other conditions related to the position of your clavicle. If you have sudden neck pain as a result of an accident, sports injury, or other trauma, get to the emergency room. If you notice any pain that occurs in one of your clavicles, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Seek immediate medical attention (call 911) if the neck itself has migrated or appears to be malformed, or if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as swelling, inability to move your hand, difficulty breathing, chest pain or tightness, abdominal pain , or fever. This could be a medical emergency. Left untreated, if the neck pain is caused by a fracture, this can lead to permanent disability or even life-threatening infection if the bone has pierced the skin.
Symptoms of pain in collarbone and neck and shoulder
Collarbone pain may be a real pain arising from the clavicle or it may be from surrounding tissues. Pain from the condition in the chest and abdomen can also spread to the shoulder and the outer part of the collar. If you are experiencing neck pain, it is also possible to get the following.
- Tenderness over the collarbone
- Decreased motion of your hand
- Pain when moving your arm
- Shooting pain on your neck or under your arm
- A bulge or protrusion over the collarbone
Causes of pain in collarbone and neck and shoulder
The most common causes of pain in collarbone and neck and shoulder are from direct or indirect trauma. External forces are transferred to the bone through the injury channels. Uncommon causes may be from an infection or inflammation of the bone.
Sleeping position; Sleeping in a certain position can cause pain in the neck, spine, or collar. Sleeping on one side for too long can be very stressful. This pain usually subsides during the day. Some may treat it with over-the-counter medications, preventing it by changing the position at night. New pillows or mattresses can also help with this type of pain.
Arthritis; Inflammation of the joint from excess can occur in the AC joint. Nearly lifting the arm repeatedly or rotating it can cause irritation in the part of the shoulder structure called the rotator loop. Typically, this type of pain feels as if it comes from the shoulder blade instead of from the collar. However, arthritis can cause neck pain as well.
Osteoarthritis; Wearing and breaking the acromioclavicular ligament or sternoclavicular joint can cause osteoarthritis in one or both parts. Arthritis can result from an old wound or just from daily use for a period of many years. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness in the affected joint. Symptoms tend to grow slowly and worsen over time.
Cancer; it is not a common cause of neck pain. If the cancer causes pain, it may have spread to other parts of the body. For example, lymph nodes that have become cancerous cause pain in nearby areas, such as the collar. Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that often occurs in the bones and lymph nodes. It can affect young children as well as adults.
Joint injury; Your shoulder can be injured without any broken bones. One injury that can cause collarbone pain is acromioclavicular (AC) joint dislocation. Joint AC division refers to nerves that relax the joint and help keep bones in place. AC joint injuries are usually caused by a fall or a direct blow to the shoulder.
Collarbone Fracture; A breakdown can be caused by a sports injury, a car accident or a birth accident. The collar is one of the most broken bones in the human body because of its position on the body. Signs of a broken neck include swelling, bruising, tenderness and stiffness in the injured arm.
Thoracic outlet syndrome; Your chest area is the space between your clavicle and your upper rib. The space is filled with blood vessels, arteries, and muscles. The weak muscles of the shoulder can allow the clavicle to slide down, putting pressure on the arteries and blood vessels to the socket. Collarbone pain can result, although the bone itself is not injured.
Diagnosis of pain in collarbone and neck and shoulder
Collarbone pain is a symptom of another condition. Detecting the cause of neck pain always begins with a detailed medical history and a thorough physical examination. History and body will guide the health care provider’s decision on what tests to do afterwards.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); CT scans use X-ray technology to create images. MRI uses a magnetic field. CT can detect the difference between hard and soft tissue very clearly.
- Bone scan; If there is any question about the integrity of the collar or other structures on the shoulder, your healthcare provider may order a bone scan to check for weak areas.
- X-rays; The easiest way to see if a collar is the cause of the pain is to look at it. X-rays offers a simpler, faster, and cheaper option. Expect to get an X-ray if you go to a health care provider for neck pain.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan; In some cases, especially if the cause of the neck pain is not serious and not obvious, the health care provider will order a CT scan.
Treatment of pain in collarbone and neck and shoulder
Treatment of pain in collarbone and neck and shoulder is specific for a reason. In the most common cases of traumatic injuries, treatment will be some form of neglect, be it surgical or nonsurgical.
If your neck pain is mild and you do not have any other symptoms, you can manage it at home. Home remedies for neck pain include the RICE method:
- Rest; Avoid using your arm and shoulder too much.
- Ice; Apply ice to the sore area for 20 minutes at a time. Do not apply ice directly to your skin; wrap it in a cloth.
- Compression; This can be done by covering the shoulder area so that your shoulder does not stand still.
- Elevation; Sleeping with your head slightly raised so your shoulder area is larger than your entire body.
The patient will usually be given pain medication, be it opioid or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). In the event of an infection, the health care provider may also prescribe antibiotics. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the health care provider will order an external sling or brace to keep the arm free of injury, or they will consult with an orthopedic surgeon to work on the wound and repair it from the inside.
3. Physical therapy
Physical therapy, activity changes, anti-inflammatory drugs and injections. In severe cases, which are rare, surgery can be performed to remove a small part of the collar so there is more space between the clavicle and the acromion – this is known as resection arthroplasty or ACJ Excision. After surgery you will need to wear a sling for a few days and get physical therapy
4. Over-the-counter pain relievers
Your neck must be moved with a special sling so you can’t move your hand. If the fracture is severe, you may need surgery. Your doctor may recommend painkillers, but if the pain is severe, you may be given painkillers to use for the first few days of healing. Rehabilitation, along with physical therapy, will help reduce stiffness and increase strength and flexibility as you continue to recover.
5. See a doctor
Pain that lasts for more than a day or continues to worsen should prompt a visit to the doctor as soon as possible. Any injury that causes visible changes in your collar or shoulder position should be treated as a medical emergency. If you delay treatment, you can make the healing process more difficult.
Following a neck injury, contact emergency services. After the examination, the doctor will make a diagnosis and recommend treatment. Failure to get proper care may delay healing or cause a wound to heal. See a doctor if shoulder pain is unexplained or accompanied by other symptoms.