Broken collarbone

A broken collarbone is usually caused by an injury to your shoulder. Get medical advice as soon as possible if you think you have a broken collarbone.

Check if you have a broken collarbone

You may have broken your collarbone if you've been injured and your shoulder:

Sometimes a broken collarbone can lead to complications that cause other symptoms such as:

But this is rare.

Urgent advice: Get help from NHS 111 if:

You've been injured and:

  • your shoulder is very painful
  • your shoulder is very swollen or bruised
  • you cannot use your arm normally

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Immediate action required: Go to A&E if:

You've been injured and:

  • your shoulder has changed shape
  • your shoulder has swollen very quickly
  • your shoulder has bone sticking out from the skin
  • you're bleeding heavily
  • you're having difficulty breathing
  • you have chest pain
  • you're coughing up blood

Call 999 if you're unable to get to A&E.

While you're waiting to see a doctor

If you think you've broken your collarbone, there are some things you can do while you're waiting to see a doctor.

You should:

Treatment for a broken collarbone

You'll need to have X-rays to check if you've broken your collarbone. A broken collarbone needs to be treated in hospital.

Your arm will usually be put in a sling to help your collarbone heal. You'll also be given painkillers to help with pain.

If the break is very bad you may need surgery to repair it, but this is rare.

You'll usually be shown some shoulder and arm exercises to do at home to help you recover quicker.

After you've left the hospital, you'll need to go for follow-up appointments to check how your collarbone is healing.

Recovering from a broken collarbone

Most people recover from a broken collarbone in 6 to 8 weeks. Children often recover quicker, usually in 3 to 4 weeks.

You may need to wear a sling for 2 to 3 weeks. You'll then need to rest your shoulder for a few more weeks and keep doing the exercises you've been given, until it's fully recovered

There are some things you can do to help your recovery.


  • take painkillers to help with the pain

  • regularly do the shoulder and arm exercises you've been given

  • try to do your usual daily activities as much as possible, without using your shoulder

  • get advice from your doctor about when you can go back to more physical activities, such as playing sports


  • do not do any lifting or play sport while you're recovering

Page last reviewed: 2 August 2023
Next review due: 2 August 2026