Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why is my collar bone raised above my shoulder?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy is my collar bone raised above my shoulder?


it limits my arm movements: i cannot raise my arms straight up, and when i roll my shoulders I hear a grinding noise. Its been like this for as long as i can remember.


There are many things that can cause deformity of the clavicle/shoulder, most of which can be determined with a physical examination, x-rays, and possibly laboratory work. So it is important to speak with your primary care physician. Some of the possibilities include healing fracture, acromio-clavicular separation, infection, tumor, or congenital variation. In the absence of known trauma, it is unlikely that you have a fracture (broken bone), but the only way to know for sure would be with an x-ray. Similarly, acromio-clavicular separations (damage to the ligaments that hold the clavicle in position in relation to the scapula/shoulder) are generally the result of a traumatic injury, but can only be ruled out definitively with an x-ray. Infection of the acromio-clavicular joint or a superficial infection can lead to changes in the contours of your shoulder. Typically an infection would be associated with other changes such as redness of the skin, tenderness to the touch, and possibly systemic symptoms. Tumors can also cause changes in the contour of the shoulder. If it has been present for "as long as I can remember", it may just be a normal anatomic variation that occurred during development (most people are asymmetric in some way). The potential for a more concerning process such as infection or tumor is the primary reason why being evaluated in person is a good idea. In addition, not only will your primary care physician or orthopedic surgeon be able to diagnose the problem, but they will be able to refer you for appropriate treatment and hopefully get you to the point that you are no longer symptomatic.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.