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Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of sprain and its grade.

  • Acromioclavicular joint sprains — In Grades I or II sprains, the injured shoulder is treated with rest, ice and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) to relieve pain and swelling. The arm is placed in a sling for one to three weeks. For most Grade III sprains, the sling is worn for four weeks. Some Grade III sprains may require surgery, particularly in very young people, in adults who work at jobs that require heavy lifting, or in people whose collarbone is displaced more than 2 centimeters (about 1 inch) out of its normal position.

  • Sternoclavicular joint sprains — Grade I sprains are treated with ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and a sling for one to two weeks. In Grade II sprains, the sling is worn for three to six weeks. Grade III sprains require a procedure called closed reduction. This is when the displaced collarbone is carefully slipped back into place after the person has received anesthesia or sedating medicines. Once the collarbone is back in its normal position, the injured shoulder is immobilized using a "clavicle strap" or figure-of-eight splint, along with a sling for four to six weeks.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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