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"My mom broke her clavicle bone 3 months ago, she still can't move her arm around. Is this normal?"

ZocdocAnswersMy mom broke her clavicle bone 3 months ago, she still can't move her arm around. Is this normal?


Three months ago my 49 year old mom broke her left clavicle bone (as well as other injuries). She still has to wear the figure 8 brace because without it, she says it hurts when her shoulder drops down so she needs that support. She can barely lift her arm, but can slowly move her shoulder joint in a circular motion with her arm down at her side. If she moves it the wrong way, it hurts to the point where she almost cries but the pain subsides within a few minutes. Her arm looks a little swollen on her bicep area. She says that area is what hurts the most right now. She also says her arm stiffens up and is hard to lift when she has it in a certain position. We don't know if all this is normal or not. I don't know if her joint ligament/muscles are stiffening up because of not having full movement in the past 3 months. Should she be trying to do some sort of exercises to improve this injury?


It sounds like your mom definitely needs to see an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation right away, probably followed by a referral to a physical therapist. You are absolutely correct that it is typically not normal to have that degree of immobility and pain this far out from the original injury. It will be very important for an orthopedist to be able to evaluate her and make sure that the original injuries have healed properly and that there aren't any sort of new problems developing. For example, it is possible for one of the biceps tendons to rupture, and this can cause swelling in the biceps are and significant pain with moving the arm. It is impossible to say whether this (or something else) has happened to your mom without a thorough physical exam. Once an orthopedic surgeon has cleared her for physical therapy, then this kind of rehabilitation will be very important in regaining mobility and strength in her arm and that side of the body. Physical therapy is a very important part of recovery for any kind of injury requiring immobilization, and hopefully with an intensive program your mom can recover her strength and begin to feel better.

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