Based on what I went through, I advise not worrying (as much as possible). Insist upon seeing the x-rays yourself, if you haven't seen them yet. Remain calm. Have an idea from online of when plates or pins are really needed, and when they are not. It really depends on what your son's bones look like right now, whether surgery is in his best interest. Just make your decisions on facts, not conjecture. And insist the doctor does the same.
I wish you well! I hope surgery is not needed.
Edited to add : I tried to find some images that showed what kind of break needs surgery, and couldn't. This link mentions that most do not. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CDgQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mayoclinic.com%2Fhealth%2Fbroken-collarbone%2FDS01184&ei=_VmsUa-AILCC0QGUvoGwCw&usg=AFQjCNHcCDukhdCZlQtPhlHjq3n_uzd1Xw
The only other reason I can think of for recommending surgery would be how active your son normally is. I can see a doctor recommending a plate if he is usually very active, or if it will be difficult for you to help him dress and bathe. If that is the reason given for putting in a plate, you can suggest the doctor x-ray the shoulder again in a week to see if it is staying in position without the plate. I hope this helps.
I just wanted to wish your DS heals quickly and well. No advice other than to ask lots of questions at the appointment because it really does depend on the type and location of the fracture. I hope it doesn't require a lot of intervention.
I'm not a doctor, there, that's my disclaimer.
I've known a few people with collar bone fractures (some clients, and DH before I met him). The ones who had surgery ended up with it because the fracture was too complex and wouldn't heal on its own. DH's was clean and they just let the bones heal together the way they were so that now you can clearly see there are two pieces sitting on top of one another. I'm telling you this to illustrate that it may not ever look right again, but DH has good mobility and use of his shoulder.
From a mechanical standpoint you want to get it as straight as possible, whether that is through surgery or not. The collar bone plays an important role in shoulder motion and clearance under the acromion as the shoulder lifts above 90 degrees. Surprisingly a lot of muscles also attach on the collar bone and rely on the ability to create pull from the collar bone and the scapula at the same time. With that in mind keeping the shoulder immobilized but also limiting movement at the neck would be good. Did they give your son a sling that also straps his arm to his torso? Try to get it positioned where the chest isn't collapsed too much, i.e. like a slouching position.
Good luck and I hope your son has a speedy recovery!
My father broke his collar bone after I moved away from home, and it healed without a plate. I don't know much about his experiences and, as he's passed on, can't ask him. They don't use a cast for a collar bone. I'm not sure why. It's bound to be frustrating, but if he has the plate put in, then either he will have to live with remaining, or have another surgery and bone healing time to have it removed. This will be over sooner without the plate. That's the upside. The downside is the added inconveniences. A tough choice.
Again, my best to you and your family! May it go smoothly!
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