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Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories
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I broke my collarbone in a bike accident 9 days ago. The first 5 days or so after the accident were terrible, any movement of my arm was very painful and I just tried to keep it as immobile as possible in a sling and no training at all.

Over the last two days I've had a lot of improvement and I went for a run last night which went pretty well. I'm thinking of trying a ride on the trainer tonight. I am signed up for IM Texas on 19th May (7 weeks away) and in the days after the accident I had resigned myself to dropping out, but with the improvements I'm feeling now, I am hopeful I might be able to do it.

I was in very good shape (for me) leading up to the crash. I figure I can probably maintain a decent level of fitness with normal running volume and three or four fairly hard bikes of 2 hours each a week on the trainer. The swim will have to be winged by just reintroducing swimming two or three weeks before the race, but I find my swim times only change minimally whether I train a lot or a little anyway.

Am I crazy to be thinking of doing the race? Has anyone pulled off an IM after a broken collarbone two months out?
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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Um, I could not imagine swimming with a broken collarbone, nor the damage that COULD be done in 2.4 miles. At this point you'd basically be into the "barely healed" period for the bone provided the fracture wasn't that bad.

That said, everything depends on the severity of the break. In my case the bone separation was 8cm's and I had no choice but to have surgery. Two hours later I had a bitchin plate and 11 screws.

Bob



"If you have a dream, pursue it as hard as you can. The world needs more of that." - Jordan Rapp
Last edited by: Macho Grande: Mar 27, 12 18:08
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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Mine was 10 weeks. Broke it on May 1st, surgery May 2nd for titanium elastic nail. Raced rev 3 Quassy 70.3 on June 2 or 3rd. I had no fitness half way thru the bike and suffered the run. Raced IMLP July and was ok on the swim in the no wetsuit category, good on the bike, lost all fitness at mile 13 on the run.

Very doable.
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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By the way, the male or female assos model......
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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My friend broke his 6 weeks before Kona. (Training accident, of course. Rode into a dog.)

It was his first, and probably only, chance to go to 'the big dance', so he naturally didn't want to miss it. He had an operation to have it pinned, and completed the race without too much drama. When he had his next check-up it was found that he had pulled the pin clear out of the bone, and he had to go under the knife again. He thinks he did that putting his luggage in the overhead locker on the flight home. Hmmmm.

I broke my collar bone (and 11 other bones, and some other stuff) 3 weeks before IM one year. There wasn't much to consider - I could barely walk. I had to be a brave little soldier to even have sex. I don't know how soon I could have raced again, but there was a huge difference between how it felt for a couple of weeks and how it felt a month later. I'm sure the calm, impartial medical advice is to give it a miss. I would personally probably ignore that advice, but you might be smarter than me.
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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I only seperated my shoulder...i can not imagine pulling down water with you hands/arm/shoulder after only 2months of breaking your collar bone. Hope you have a high threshhold for pain :0) btw.... Hope it was notnyour butt wiping side, man did that hurt. Kind of wish i had a bidet (sp?) to do it for me when i seperated mine.

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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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If you're running already, that's impressive. I was able to ride easy on the trainer after 2 days, but it took around 5 weeks to start running. My bone stitched together right at 6 weeks. I wasn't swimming for about 8 weeks, but our only pool is outside and it gets pretty cold in the winter. That was a good enough excuse for me. When you start doing activities, don't overdo it. If your shoulder starts to hurt, stop doing what you're doing. Pretty simple. Younger people heal quicker than older people. I'm 41. My teammates 4-yo daughter broke her collarbone a couple weeks after I did and was fully healed in a few weeks. I was racing (bikes) about 8 weeks post-break.

Try the different slings (regular and figure 8), and stretch your shoulder as soon as you can to keep it limber. Stretching it out in front for a pull during the swim is still a bit rough. Initiating the pull took a few sessions before it really felt good too.

I used the figure 8 brace instead of the regular sling and I liked it a lot better. Doctors don't really recommend them any more as they don't help healing better than a normal sling but many people swear by them. The sling is more for pain relief than anything. the figure 8 allows more mobility and still keeps the shoulder pretty immobile. Good luck!

---
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [MonkeyClaw] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the responses. It seems like there's a wide range of outcomes and recovery periods for collarbone breaks. I had a pretty good session on the trainer tonight and followed it with a short run afterwards with no real problems. I'm going to keep doing this for a couple more weeks then make a decision. My break is on the edge near where it attaches to the shoulder and the two sides have good contact so I may be able to heal faster than average. My doctor said that if any kind of movement causes pain then don't try and push through it, but if you can ride your trainer or do an easy run without pain then it's probably OK.
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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Dude you sound just like the girl in this video, stay in touch with your doctor who can look at the information & x-rays etc. and give you a proper informed opinion!

We do not know the intimate details of the damage, you seriously risk damaging yourself in the long term if it's not properly healed... and what for?
Last edited by: rj2501: Mar 28, 12 1:42
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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It sounds like my break was worse, but I decided on surgery to try to ensure the return of full range of motion. I'm a swimmer so reduced movement in my shoulder was not really an option. I had surgery one month post accident (VA healthcare). My recovery was about 4 weeks before I was in the pool swimming one armed, and by 5 weeks I was running and riding. I took it very easy though. I wanted to make sure my injury healed. Better to give it time then and let it heal, than to push it and end up with complications for the rest of my life.

jake

Get outside!
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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I had a class 1 separation and a non-displacement fracture. My dr didn't even give me a sling. I was running in 3 weeks. Recovery from my appendectomy last month has taken longer :(
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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Broke my clavice 6.5 weeks prior to my IM. No surgery required, but I don't ever want to see my xray again :)

rode on the trainer slowly, to guage the pain/comfort level, 10 days after the break

started running 2 weeks after the break

started biking on the road 3 weeks after the break

did a 100 mile ride 2 weeks prior to the IM

Started swimming again 2-2.5 weeks prior to the IM

Finished the IM faster than 50% of the field.

I had two issues during the race

1. swim was very slow. I didn't want to do anything to cause imflamation or pain. I veered off course a lot more than normal due to one side of the shoulder being stronger than the other

2. getting in and out of aero was a slow motion process. If you are riding a tri bike, I suggest that you get out of aero way way way sooner than you normally do.

The one thing I did that might be a good idea for you is to stop taking the pain meds as quickly as you can tolerate. It will give you a better indication of where you are on the pain tolerance side. You can't take pain killers during the race, so getting off of them during training will give you a better assessment.

If your goal is to finish, you can definitely do it. Good luck :)


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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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3 weeks for the initial recovery but it took me a year to improve my PRs in my best events, this was as a 12 -13 year old swimmer. I still ran, kicked in the pool and swam 1 arm drills for that time frame. I only took 3 days off after I crashed.

Get back in the pool and work on your kick it will help more than you think, especially if you are swimming without a wetsuit. If you don't have good swim fins get some. I know a gal who did great white north half and swam 1 arm freestyle, she was under 32 with one arm.

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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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Have actually broken my collarbone 4 times.. however all of them were far before I ever started triathlon. In my case they all occurred playing hockey and the diagnosis was usually to be out 6 weeks before I was able to resume full contact sports again. I always found that by around week 3 the tenderness and pain from moving the shoulder around had gone away and at that point I was allowed to resume skating and by about 4-5 weeks I was able to start weight bearing (at the time this was weight training and pushups) again. If I was able to start running into people at full speed after 6 weeks I don't see much reason why you couldn't be swimming again by then
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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I broke my collarbone 4.5 weeks out from my first IM, IMLP in 2007.
I come from a swim background which was a huge help. I wore a sleeveless wetsuit, pretty sure I couldn't get it into sleeves on race day. I swam a 1:03. I was able to swim 1000 yards 2 weeks and 2 days from the crash.
On the bike I lost a bunch of fitness (managed a few 2 hour trainer rides, one 4 hour trainer ride and only one outdoor ride of 2 hours). I was worried about grabbing water bottles - ended up being a non-issue. Aero position actually felt perfect, didn't feel different at all.
On the run - well - I walked a large portion of it. My long run was at 15 miles and I had also done a 13 miler. I was really happy to just be able to start and finish the race!

My Doctor had said that he would allow me to compete in the IM but that he didn't think I could finish.

Turns out, it never healed. And I have chosen to never get it fixed surgically. I still swim fine (again, swimming background helps) and other than rock climbing or other random sports, I am fine. I have just had a broken bone for 5 years. My Doctor wasn't really sure if it would have ever healed. He said that many never heal but never bother people so they don't go back to the Doctor.

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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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Take your time to heel and follow Doctors orders.

I broke mine and had to have surgery...I tried to get back into the swing of things way to fast...Then was faced with a second surgery to replace the screws and plate (new drill holes, opening, etc)....

There will always be Ironmans, races, etc. Get healthy so you can train and race without worry or concern.


HTH.

http://cmkracing.blogspot.com
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [ckotte] [ In reply to ]
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ckotte wrote:
Take your time to heel and follow Doctors orders.

I broke mine and had to have surgery...I tried to get back into the swing of things way to fast...Then was faced with a second surgery to replace the screws and plate (new drill holes, opening, etc)....

There will always be Ironmans, races, etc. Get healthy so you can train and race without worry or concern.


HTH.

Hey Ckotte,

How are you doing now after that experience? I am getting a plate installed in February and am worried about these complications. Also, for those of you who had surgery - did you have the plate removed once the fracture healed? I am thinking I will probably want this because I am thin.

B
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [bradhere] [ In reply to ]
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Doing well.

Plate is still in. Not sure that I have the need to ever take it out. Arm feels strong and I can do everything I could pre-injury.

Of course, I now need to go out and ride my bike.

http://cmkracing.blogspot.com
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [bradhere] [ In reply to ]
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I broke my left collarbone 3 times in 12 weeks when I used to road race motorcycles. I had 3 races, each 4 weeks apart - crashed on the same collarbone each time. After I crashed on it the 3rd time, I didn't even go to the ER, because I had a checkup the next day from accident #2. I didn't say anything about #3 when I went in…they x-rayed it, and put me in a room to meet with the doctor. The doc did a side-by-side comparison with how it looked 4 weeks prior, and had a dumbfounded look. He said, "it doesn't appear to be healing at all, in fact it looks worse than it did 4 weeks ago and is shaped more like a V." I then informed him of accident #3, and told me to hold on a minute and left the room. He left the door cracked a little, and I heard him approach a group of technicians/doctors, and say "you'll never believe this…."
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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You're lucky if running is a possibility that soon after your break.

I broke mine snowboarding in 2006. The break was so bad it punctured a lung. I also sprained my jaw and knocked myself unconscious (I don't snowboard so much anymore). I had that awful 'figure 8' brace plus an arm sling for 3 solid months before I could even think about doing any sudden movements. If I moved too quickly with my upper body my chest muscles would spasm to keep my bone in place. Since the bone had completely separated it needed to grow back together. Now its good as new. All I can say is listen to your doc. If they advice against doing something put some serious thought into it. Better to think long term.

TLDR: breaking your clavicle sucks
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [bradhere] [ In reply to ]
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After my clavicle didn't heal, I had surgery to have a plate and nine screws put in. That was 16 months ago. The only time I really notice the plate is when I carry a heavy bag or backpack with the strap directly over the plate. Otherwise, it has not bothered me at all. The concern was that, since I am thin, it would bother me quite a bit, but that has not been the case. At this point, I don't plan to have the plate removed.

Richard
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [rkling] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the replies, guys!

How about the scar? Does that bother you at all? After 16 months I assume it is no longer red but white and hardly noticeable? Any numbness?

I appreciate the quick info!

B
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [bradhere] [ In reply to ]
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It's a great scar! Actually, my orthopaedic surgeon did a really nice job of following the contours of my clavicle. I'm not a person that develops keloids, so the scar is not too big. It is red, not white, but that's probably because of my pigmentation. So, it is noticeable, but not bad and doesn't bother me at all. No numbness over the area. Make sure to cover the scar when you go out in the sun. It's less likely to become hyperpigmented.

Richard
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [rkling] [ In reply to ]
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Sounds cool! Haha. I'm sure the redness will fade with time too. Can you see or feel the plate? I am surprised that the hardware doesn't bother you if you are a skinny guy. I am 5'11" 160 lbs so I am a lighter build but I like to think I have enough meat on me for it to not be too noticeable. It can't be any worse than the spiky bone sticking out of my shoulder right now anyway! My bone healed in a "malunited" position (kind of like ^ but not so severe) which causes tenting of the skin and other functional problems like strength/endurance. The idea is to re-break the bone and line it back up in the right position. Should be a fun ride...

B
Last edited by: bradhere: Jan 16, 13 12:34
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Re: Tell me your broken collarbone recovery stories [The Assos Model] [ In reply to ]
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If you went for a run after 9 days you didnt break it like I did. Mine was split completely into two after a snowboarding accident and for two weeks I was sitting in bed (sleeping like that too). I was on heavy painkillers and it took a couple of months before I could do light exercise (including one-armed waterskiing on my honeymoon!). I did not have an op as I didnt want a scar. Bit of a lump now but otherwise no issues. I think if it's just cracked and you can run now you will be fine to race in May. Swimming will be the toughest thing to get back to obviously, but as you say, do what you can closer to the race. Good luck!
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