Cowboys Tony Romo Out with Clavicle Fracture
In the second quarter of tonight’s Monday Night Football game, Tony Romo was hit by Giants linebacker Michael Boley. Landing directly on his left shoulder, Romo was taken out of the game with a left clavicle fracture. Will we see him back this year?
The shoulder is made up of three bones: the humerus (arm bone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the clavicle (collar bone). The clavicle is a long, skinny bone, which is shaped as an “s”, as it travels from the sternum (breast bone) to the shoulder.
Clavicle fractures are common, occurring usually in children and athletes. The clavicle can break with a direct blow to the bone. This can occur from a blow to the front or outer part of the clavicle.
Individuals with a broken collarbone will have immediate pain swelling and perhaps a black and blue mark. The shoulder and arm will be difficult to move. There may be an abnormal bump in the location where the bone is broken. An x-ray is usually needed to get a better idea of the location and “shift” (displacement) of the break. A good physical exam will be needed to ensure that the blood vessels and nerves that travel near the clavicle are not damaged.
Depending on the location of the break, the clavicle can be treated with or without surgery. In the non surgical option, the arm is kept in a sling, in order to rest the shoulder. The patient is allowed to come out of the sling every few hours to do some basic range of motion exercises and keep the shoulder from stiffening. The bone will take 8 to 10 weeks to heal. Surgery is selected if: the bone is pushing up too much on the skin, the broken area of bone is very tender, or in the case of an athlete. There are a variety of ways to treat clavicle fractures with surgery, including the application of a plate and screws or a screw or device that goes in the center of the bone and stabilizes the break. The advantage of surgery is that physical therapy and exercises can begin more quickly.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE
If you suspect that you have sustained a clavicle fracture or break of your collarbone, you should seek medical attention within a few hours to days.
RETURN TO ACTIVITIES/OUTCOMES
Most throwing athletes treated without surgery will be out of throwing activities for 8 to 10 weeks. With surgery, this can be shortened to 6 to 8 weeks.
For a video animation of “Collarbone Fractures”, please see the “Education” tab of my website. Click orthopaedics, then shoulder, then conditions, then fractures of the collarbone.
Given Romo’s new injury, it is very unlikely that he will return this season.
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