A Current Concepts Review of Clavicle Injuries in Ice Hockey From Sternoclavicular to Acromioclavicular Joint

Orthop J Sports Med. 2020 Sep 24;8(9):2325967120951413. doi: 10.1177/2325967120951413. eCollection 2020 Sep.


Clavicle injuries are common in ice hockey, and a number of high-profile fractures and dislocations have occurred in elite hockey players in recent years. Acromioclavicular joint injuries, clavicle fractures, and sternoclavicular joint injuries are some of the most frequent hockey-related injuries treated by orthopaedic surgeons, and familiarity with the management of these injuries and sport-specific considerations for treatment and recovery are critical. Injuries involving the clavicle can sometimes be life-threatening, and subtle findings on physical examination and radiographic studies can have profound implications for treatment. The recent literature pertinent to the diagnosis and treatment of clavicle-related injuries in ice hockey players was reviewed and compiled into a clinical commentary. For ice hockey players, the upper extremity was traditionally considered a relatively well-protected area. However, given the evolution of the game and its protective equipment, the upper extremity now accounts for the majority of youth ice hockey injuries, of which clavicle injuries comprise a significant proportion. Acromioclavicular joint injuries are the most common injury in this population, followed closely by clavicle fractures. Sternoclavicular joint injuries are rare but can be associated with serious complications. The treatment of these injuries often differs between athletes and the general population, and surgical indications continue to evolve in both groups. Although the evidence regarding clavicle injuries is ever-increasing and the treatment of these injuries remains controversial, clavicle injuries are increasingly common in ice hockey players. Rule and equipment changes, most notably the increased use of flexible boards and glass, have been shown to significantly decrease the risk of clavicle injuries. We also recommend compulsory use of shoulder pads, even at a recreational level, as well as continued enforcement and evolution of rules aimed at reducing the rate of clavicle injuries. Future research should focus on equipment design changes directed toward clavicle injury prevention, standardized return-to-play protocols, and studies weighing the risks and benefits of nonoperative management of controversial injuries, such as type III acromioclavicular joint dislocations and diaphyseal clavicle fractures.

Keywords: acromioclavicular; clavicle; ice hockey; shoulder; sternoclavicular.

Publication types

  • Review