How a Sternoclavicular Joint Injury Causes Clavicle Pain
The sternoclavicular (SC) joint connects the clavicle (collarbone) to the sternum (breastbone) and upper body. The SC joint is relatively strong and stable making SC joint injury fairly uncommon. When a sternoclavicular joint injury does occur, it is typically caused by a direct blow or blunt trauma to the collarbone area. Dr. Mark Getelman, orthopedic shoulder specialist in the Van Nuys, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California area, specializes in treating clavicle pain associated with an injury to the SC joint.
It is reported that many sternoclavicular joint injury cases are sustained during sports activities and falls. A blunt strike to the shoulder area pushes the shoulder inward, leading to damage of the SC joint. If the clavicle sustains the majority of the impact, a dislocation may occur. SC joint injuries include:
- SC Joint Dislocation
- SC Joint Subluxation
- SC Joint Instability
- SC Joint Sprain
- SC Joint Fracture
- SC Joint Arthritis
An SC joint injury is classified on a grading scale based on injury severity. A grade I injury is a simple stretch or sprain of the SC joint’s ligaments. A grade II injury occurs when a portion of the clavicle becomes subluxated. A grade III injury is a severe sternoclavicular joint injury and commonly involves a complete rupture of the sternoclavicular and costoclavicular ligaments. A grade III injury often leads to a dislocation of the clavicle and sternum.
Sternoclavicular Joint Injury Symptoms
Symptoms of an SC joint injury typically include clavicle pain where the collar bone meets the sternum at the time of injury and following the injury, bruising, swelling, instability and popping and/or cracking sounds. With a particular posterior SC dislocation, patients may experience difficulty breathing and swallowing and a sense of fullness or choking due to posterior displacement of the clavicle and may require more urgent management.
Sternoclavicular Joint Injury Diagnosis
A thorough physical examination will be performed by Dr. Getelman to diagnose a sternoclavicular joint injury. He will test for clavicle pain and tenderness, as well as evaluate the shoulder and arm’s range of motion. X-rays and an MRI are also commonly performed to view the bony structures and soft tissues in great detail.