As a cyclist, if we get knocked off our bike or hit by a car, the first reaction is to break your fall by putting your arm out and if you can do that in time you land on your shoulder. Pretty much either way you have a good chance of fracturing your collarbone. If you’re lucky and it’s a simple fracture, they don’t do surgery, the bones sort of overlap one another and they heal in that position. In this case, you’ll probably be off your bike for about eight weeks.
If you’re not so lucky and you have a compound fracture where the bone actually comes through the skin and there’s multiple pieces of bone because of the fracture, the doctor doesn’t really have a choice but to put it together with plates and screws. This really serves three purposes. The first is to keep the pieces together. The second is to try to preserve the length of the collarbone because if you shorten that bone you can have rotator cuff issues later. And, finally the big advantage for cyclists is that you can get back on your bike in about a month.
One problem when you have the surgery is to make sure that you don’t have a post operative infection. This can happen when you start back to exercising, you sweat and it can enter the wound site. You want to make sure that this doesn’t happen because that really will keep you off your bike for a long time.
Some cyclists go through years, even professional cyclists, and they’ve never had this happen. It took 15 years for Lance Armstrong’s career before his first fracture. And, then there are other guys who have had multiple fractures in one season. Obviously, subsequent fractures make it more difficult to heal and put the pieces back together with all the hardware.