The sternoclavicular joint is positioned in the site where the clavicle links to the sternum. These bones are secured in place by a ligament. A sternoclavicular joint separation occurs once the ligament is ripped apart.
Sternoclavicular joint separation is likely to occur after a direct strike to the sternum or from a fall onto the shoulder or extended hands that delivers a strong force throughout the collarbone. In some cases, the injury can also occur in contact sports when the shoulder of a player strikes the ground and another player land on top of the other shoulder joint.
What are the signs?
The usual indications of this injury include:
- Pain and inflammation over the sternoclavicular joint
- Movement amidst the breastbone and collarbone.
The doctor will assess the symptoms and perform tests such as an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
Management of sternoclavicular joint separation
If an individual is diagnosed with sternoclavicular joint separation, the following measures are carried out:
- Apply an ice pack or cold compress that is covered with a towel or cloth on the site of injury every 3-4 hours at 20-minute sessions at a time until the discomfort settles.
- Provide an anti-inflammatory medication that must be taken as instructed.
- A sling can be worn
- The shoulder and arm must be allowed to rest until the pain subsides.
In case the collarbone is thrusted behind the breastbone, there is a possibility of damage to the heart or blood vessels in the chest region. In such cases, surgery is required.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on sternoclavicular joint separation is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.