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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

From Lance to Braman

March 27, 2009

We’ve see the unfortunate news: Lance wrecked his way out of the Vuelta a Castilla y León.

Even though he’s a professional, this is a very common injury amongst all cyclists. From racers to weekend warriors, we’ve all seen, heard, or felt the pain that a broken collarbone brings forth. As athletes, injuries are commonplace, but when our upper body is restricted, how soon can we be back on the road?

Helge Riepenhof, a doctor for Team Columbia-Highroad who has studied injuries in cyclists, said a broken collarbone was the second-most-common injury in the peloton. Skin lesions top the list.

He said riders often hung onto the handlebars during a crash, in hopes of staying upright, and ended up falling on their shoulders. The collarbones break because they are the weakest bone in the shoulder area, he said.

Dr. Jonathon Braman provided us with additional insight on these pesky injuries:


Jonathan P. Braman, M.D – TRIA Orthopedic Center

Broken collarbones or “clavicles” are a frequent result of falls, especially involving cycling. Most breaks can be managed without needing surgery, by placing the arm in a sling for a period of time then gradually getting the strength and motion back over time.

Sometimes, however, they do not heal in a sling. This can be especially troubling for cyclists as the collarbone absorbs much of the stress during long rides.

One reason why some breaks don’t heal is if during the first part of healing, too much motion occurs. This can cause the broken bone to fail to grow back together.

New studies looking at how people do after breaking their collarbones has shown that some broken collarbones should be operated on at the start. As a result, it is best to see a shoulder surgeon with any broken collarbone.

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