Pain Around The Collar Bone Area – Clavicle Pain

Pain Around The CollarBone Area - Clavicle Pain

Despite its relatively small size, clavicle can cause quite a bit of discomfort, and I know this all to well. Several years ago I was faced with a constant pain in the region around this bone and, I can tell you it can be a pain in the a$$.

Of course, the pain will largely depend on the type of the injury and its severity. If it is broken it will be very painful and may swell up, but in most cases the injury is not at all severe and it will go away in a couple days.
In today`s article we will go over the anatomy of the clavicle, main causes of collarbone pain and give you some suggestions on what you should do to reduce pain.

Anatomy And Name Origin


Clavicle (commonly known as collarbone), is a long bone located in between the sternum and scapula (shoulder blade). You noticed I said it was a long bone, even though it is only around 15 cm long, its characteristics make it a long bone by type (I will not go into details, since they are not all that relevant to the topic of today`s article).

Even though the word is of Latin origin (“Clavicula“), someone may link it to the Latin work for key Clavis, saying the word Clavicula is just the diminutive of the word Clavis (“little key”), but this is incorrect.

Clavicula is actually the Latin name for tendril (a specialized stem plants use for climbing and attaching to various surfaces). The bone was apparently reminiscent of a tendril because of the way it connected the scapula to the sternum.

Even though the bone is rather small one, it has a number of responsibilities and important functions:

  • Along with the shoulder blade, it offers support to the upper limbs and allows full range of motion
  • It serves as a protection to major blood vessels and nerves located in this area
  • It serves as a muscle attachment

Muscles Around And Under Collar Bone

Clavicle bone has a lot of muscle attachments which insert on the upper and under surface of the bone.

Upper surface – lateral third of the upper surface of the bone is marked by impressions for the attachments of the deltoid and trapezuis muscles; medial two thirds of the bone is marked by impressions for the attachments of pectoralis major and sterno-cleido-mastoideus muscles.

Under surfacesubclavius muscle runs along the under surface of the clavicle bone along with pectoralis major.

CollarBone Pain (Clavicle Pain)

There are a number of reasons for pain around the collarbone area, in the following text we will go over them.

Fracture

One of the most common causes of the pain in the clavicle area is an existing fracture. A fracture can occur in many ways, falling on outstretched hand, fall on the shoulder or a direct hit to the clavicle.

How will you know if you fractured it? Well, it`s pretty obvious that you will feel pain, a swelling will appear, followed by a limited range of motion and an increase in pain intensity when trying to more your arm.

After you have suffered a collarbone fracture, you must visit your doctor immediately. But, until you do, there are several things you can do to reduce pain:

  • Rest and immobilize the shoulder joint along with your entire arm
  • Apply ice pact to reduce the swelling and pain
  • And use medication
  • When the process of healing is complete, you might need to engage in physical therapy to regain your full range of motion.

Collarbone Pain During Or After Dips

If you`ve ever experienced collarbone pain during of after your dips routine, I want you to know that you are not the only one. In fact, most people complain about this type of pain,especially when starting out.

Then, depending on the character of the person, some may avoid the exercise completely (just like I did), some will push through the pain (and possibly injure themselves) and some will seek medical help to see what is going on.

And even though this pain is very common, not a lot of research was done to get to the bottom of it and there is surprisingly little information addressing this issue. Bearing that in mind, we`ve managed to pinpoint some of the main causes of this pain and divided them into three categories:

  1. Lack of proper warm-up
  2. Poor technique and
  3. A more severe injury

Let`s begin with the first one – Lack Of Proper Warm-Up

Warming up prior to physical activity is almost as important as physical activity itself, yet most people chose to ignore it. They will often complain that they simply don`t have enough time or just don`t know how to do it. If you are one of those people, we urge you to change, since proper warm-up will not only prevent injury from happening, it will also improve the elasticity of your muscles, promote circulation and improve the range of motion.

Proper Technique And Form

Not surprisingly, when searching for the “best” dips technique you might come across not only different but actually conflicting information. And this is probably where most people get it wrong, they either adopt a poor technique or give it “their own spin” and end up with a shoulder injury.

Some also like to lean forward while descending into a dip (for the chest), but this can end badly since you will put even more pressure to the joints of the shoulder as well as the joint between the clavicle and the sternum (sternoclavicular joint). This is what caused collarbone pain for me personally. I like to keep my body straight, chin up and facing forward, elbows close to the body. When descending, I will go down until I form a 90 degree angle in the elbow. I don`t go lower than that and never work myself to exhaustion.

Note that I am not an expert in this field so it would be best to find someone who will demonstrate proper form to you.

More Severe Injuries

It is possible to develop hairline microfractures along the clavicle, which cause pain on motion. Also, a common symptom of this type of fracture is pain during push ups.

Another common injury in this area is rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff consists of muscles and tendons keeping the shoulder joint stable. Injured (torn) rotator cuff will cause recurrent pain, cracking sound when moving your arm, limited mobility and weakness in the joint.

In any case, if you experience pain during or after the dip exercise, you should consult your doctor. Choosing to persist through the pain might cause you more hard than good and may even lead to injury so why risk it…

Other Causes Of Pain Around Or Under The CollarBone

sleeping-in-an-awkward-positionAs we`ve seen before, fracture is pretty obvious cause of pain and you don`t have to be a rocket scientist (or a doctor for that matter) to identify it. But, there are a number of other causes and conditions where pain around the clavicle is felt.

Once of the more simple causes of clavicle pain is an awkward sleeping position. If you wake up and feel irritation in the lower neck area and below the collarbone, chances are you slept on your shoulder in a very awkward position, pressing your nerves and causing irritation and pain. In this case, pain will go away on its own, so you don`t need to worry.

Tense neck muscles may also be causing problems. If you start to feel pain in your chest or around the collarbone area, when breathing deeply, there is a chance your neck muscles are tight and are pressing on your throat, making it sore. If this is, indeed the case, you need to relax your muscles (you can try out these exercises – Exercises For Neck Pain Relief or read about some of the Best Pain Relief Creams For Joint And Muscle Pain). It could also be an infection, therefore, visiting your doctor is a must.


One of the more severe causes of clavicle area pain is arthritis. Even though clavicle is rather small, it is connected to two more bones of our body, meaning it is a part of two joints. If you`ve developed arthritis in either one of those joints, you will experience pain and discomfort which is why I, again, advise you to go see your doctor,  get a thorough physical examination and get to the bottom of your pain!
Other common causes include:


Last updated: July 3, 2015 at 11:27 am

Igor (Site Owner)

About Igor (Site Owner)

Hi everyone and welcome to our website! The main reason behind it was my desire to combine my two great passions in life. The first one was medicine and my desire to help people and when i combined it with my passion for blogging HelpYourBack.org was born! I hope you enjoy your stay and ease your pain with our helpful tips!

14 thoughts on “Pain Around The Collar Bone Area – Clavicle Pain

  1. Tracey

    My pain began one week ago. It’s a pain I can’t touch by massaging the area. I must have slept wrong since I don’t recall doing anything to cause it. It almost feels like the bone needs to crack (if that makes sense). It’s just not going away :(

    Reply
    • Igor (Site Owner)Igor (Site Owner) Post author

      Tracey, we are so sorry for the late reply, but for some reason your comment was picked up by our comment plugin and maker as spam. We get a lot of spammy comments which get taken care off automatically, but the plugin sometimes makes these sort of mistakes. Once again, we are sorry.

      As for your pain, hopefully it went away by now, but we have to reply nonetheless. If you didn`t do anything to cause it chances are you either slept wrong or stayed in an awkward position for some period of time (while watching TV for example).

      This type of pain should go away on its own, but if you notice any sort of stiffness in the joint you should go see your doctor.

      And if you are looking for a topical cream to relieve your pain, you can read our article on picking the best topical pain relief cream here: http://helpyourback.org/health/best-pain-relief-cream-for-joint-and-muscle-pain/

      Reply
  2. madhav

    Thanks for the reasons behind clavicula. my sleeping style must change. I always take left hand support to keep my head in the night. Actually it makes my breathing easy during the night.

    I sprayed pain relief and now I am cool.

    Reply
  3. Ronda McCormick

    I’ve read quite a few articles on the web and this was the easiest to understand and full of great help. My collarbone pain comes and goes. Right now with moving to a new home it’s excruciating when I take a deep breath. It feels like an air bubble is stuck under the bone. In the past a good night’s rest usually clears it up, but I think this time a good massage might help. Thanks. You’ve been super helpful and at least now I know it’s not something serious.

    Reply
    • Igor (Site Owner)Igor (Site Owner) Post author

      Thank you Rhonda! I`m so glad you found our article helpful as we try to eliminate as much “medical jargon” as possible and give clear, easy-to-understand information, just like you pointed out.

      Keep in mind that, if the pain is present over longer periods of time, we always recommend getting it checked out by a medical professional and see what exactly is causing it.

      Best,
      Igor

      Reply
  4. Ian

    So I just got done longboarding which causes me to swing my arms a lot. I had broken my collar bone 6 years ago. Well when I got home my left collarbone started to hurt not bad just uncomfortable here’s the thing I have been longboarding pretty much every day the same way pretty much for the past 2 years what should I do ?

    Reply
    • Igor (Site Owner)Igor (Site Owner) Post author

      Hey Ian, thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, people often experience pain long after bone breaks. The surrounding tissue gets injured and slight misalignment may cause pain down the road.

      As for your question, I am obviously not going to tell you to stop with longboarding but you might consider cutting back on the intensity of your routine. I know that you are probably working on yourself and are keen to make progress every single day but you need to also be aware of your physical limitations, considering the fact you`ve had already broken your clavicle. Another thing you can do is try to pace yourself, instead of practicing for 3 hours straight, break it down into three one-hour sessions and spread it over the entire day.

      One more thing that could potentially help is wearing a corrective brace to help immobilize your clavicle bone, or even a posture corrective tank. We did an article not too long ago on buying the best posture corrective braces, you can take a look here – http://helpyourback.org/back-pain/best-posture-corrective-brace-for-men-and-woman/

      The brace might limit certain movements but it will help stabilize your shoulders and clavicle bones and might help with the pain.

      Hope this helps you, have a great day!

      Reply
  5. Paula

    Thank you for sharing thing with us much easier for me to understand I will change my ways of sleeping and the way I watch tv thank you so much

    Reply
  6. Barbara Robinson

    Thank you for your wonderful explanation. I’ve been searching for something to explain my pain in that area. I think mine comes from bad bowling form. I mainly feel the pain (actually, it feels like a tightness and ache) when I am bowling. Since I only feel it while I bowl, I haven’t done much about it (except to try to change my bowling form). Do you have any suggestions? I just don’t want it to turn into a chronic condition. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Igor (Site Owner)Igor (Site Owner) Post author

      Hi Barbara, thanks for stopping by!

      Yeah, I tried bowling once or twice and I couldn`t feel my hand the day after, it was so sore :)
      It will put a good amount of pressure on the joints and muscles of the arm that`s for sure, especially if you are just starting out. Unfortunately, I can`t help you much with regards to your form, I think the best thing would be to ask other experienced bowlers if they had the same problem and how they dealt with it.

      One thing I can recommend is to warm up before starting to bowl; to get the blood flowing, warm up the muscles and loosen up the joints and ligaments. You can check out this video for a good shoulder warm up routine: Shoulder Warm Up Routine

      Hope it helps,
      Best

      Reply

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