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Lump on Collarbone: Understanding the Causes of Clavicle Bone Lumps

Editorial Team
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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What Causes a Clavicle Bone Lump?

Discovering a lump on your collarbone can be a concerning experience, but understanding the potential causes is key to addressing your worries. A common reason for a collarbone lump is a healing fracture, which can create a noticeable protrusion as the bone mends. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, clavicle fractures account for about 5% of all adult fractures. In some cases, a benign growth such as a lipoma, which the American Society of Clinical Oncology notes occurs in 1% of the population, may form atop the collarbone. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease affecting over 32.5 million adults in the U.S. according to the CDC, can also cause lumps at the clavicle's ends. While less common, cancerous conditions must be considered, making it crucial to consult a physician for any unexplained collarbone lump to ensure proper diagnosis and peace of mind.

A clavicle bone lump can be caused by a variety of conditions. The most common source of a lump over the clavicle bone is a healing bone fracture. Sometimes the lump is a lipoma, or a harmless fatty tumor that settles on top of the collarbone. If the bump is located at either end of the clavicle, it could be caused by damage from osteoarthritis (OA). Certain forms of cancer may cause lumps to develop over the clavicle, so any unidentified bumps should be evaluated by a physician to rule out a serious condition.

Most often, a clavicle bone lump is caused by a poorly healing break in the bone. The development of a small lump over the fracture site is frequently the only symptom of the injury. A clavicle bone fracture can occur during any type of vigorous physical activity or as a result of a fall. Newborn babies may suffer a clavicle fracture during a difficult birth. A baby that will not move one arm or cries when he is picked up should be seen by a doctor for appropriate medical care.

Extensive treatment of a clavicle fracture is typically not necessary for a newborn, and the clavicle will usually heal quickly on its own. Older children and adults may need to wear a sling to immobilize the affected arm and to help the fracture heal faster. Ice and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may help relieve any discomfort during the healing process. Compound clavicle fractures can require the surgical insertion of pins to stabilize the bone while it heals.

A small lump over the clavicle may be caused by a tumor formed from fatty tissue. The lump can usually be moved with slight pressure and is not painful. It does not require removal unless it is perceived to be unsightly, and then it can be removed during an outpatient procedure.

Occasionally, a clavicle bone lump is a sign of re-occurring breast cancer. It develops on or near the clavicle, and is later determined to be in one of the lymph nodes. Early evaluation of any lump found on the body can contribute to a favorable prognosis if cancer is later detected.

Another condition that causes a clavicle bone lump is aneurysmal bone cyst. It can be diagnosed after a computerized tomography (CT) scan is taken. Most physicians will recommend the surgical removal of the cyst. If there has not been any re-growth of the aneurismal bone cyst within two years, it is not likely to develop again.

What Are Calcifications on the Collar Bone?

Lumps and bumps can result from old fractures. If someone broke their clavicle in multiple places, calcifications could form at the injury sites. These calcifications can form bulges along the collar bone that are easy to feel or see with the naked eye. These calluses are hard and unmoveable. Since this is where the bone fused back together, it is a normal part of the healing process and not of concern unless it causes pain or discomfort.

How To Recognize a Cyst on Collar Bone

Cysts are sacs filled with fluid that can form on many body parts. These small bumps feel squishy to the touch and have some flexibility. Bone cysts are relatively common and can form directly on the clavicle. Since cysts are easily mistaken for cancerous tumors and swollen lymph nodes, it is essential to have any new growth checked by a specialist.

What Is Lipoma on Collar Bone?

White blood cells work as the immune system's defense unit. These cells will gather in the lymph nodes to fight off infection during an illness. This influx of white blood cells causes swelling, which is ordinary and not a cause for concern.

Sometimes, these lymphocytes multiply uncontrollably, resulting in cancerous lymphoma. A group of swollen lymph nodes above the collar bone is often the first sign of this deadly disease. Patients may also find malignant lymph nodes in the groin, chest or underarms.

How To Recognize a Tumor on Collar Bone

Unlike a cyst, a bone tumor will feel solid and unmoveable. Tumors can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous.) Since many clavicle tumors are malignant, a doctor will need to perform a biopsy to determine whether or not it is cancerous.

What To Expect From a Collar Bone Biopsy

A biopsy will test for cancerous cells in suspicious growths. A needle biopsy or a cut biopsy may be necessary, depending on the situation.

Needle Biopsy 

Needle biopsies occur in a medical office and usually only take several minutes to complete. The doctor will numb the area, insert a needle, and remove a few cells for testing.

Punch Biopsy

A physician will perform a cut or punch biopsy if they cannot remove cells via a needle or need a larger sample. The doctor will numb the area, then make a small incision and remove some or all of the lymph nodes.

Surgical Biopsy

For issues deep within the bone, a surgical biopsy may be necessary. An anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia to put the patient to sleep for the procedure.

Test results times vary depending on the speed of the lab and type of biopsy taken, but most patients can expect results within a few days.

What To Expect When Removing a Collar Bone Tumor

Tumors can reside deep within the bone, so surgeons must carefully remove tumors under general anesthesia. Rare instances may require the removal of the entire clavicle bone. The surgeon may install a rod in place of the bone for neck and shoulder stability in such cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common cause of clavicle bone lumps?

A fracture or break in the bone is the most common reason for a lump on the clavicle bone. Usually, a traumatic event like a fall, vehicle accident, or other direct injury to the shoulder or arm causes this. The bulge might result from calcium deposits or a bone fragment that has been dislodged. A lump may sometimes result from an infection like osteomyelitis or septic arthritis.

How can I determine the severity of the lump?

You should see a doctor if you feel any of the following in the location of the lump: pain, swelling, or soreness. Redness or warmth in the region, trouble moving the arm, or fever are other signs that might point to a significant issue. If any of these symptoms appear, it is imperative to visit a doctor.

Is it possible to treat a bump on the clavicle bone?

The etiology of a lump on the clavicle bone determines the course of treatment. The bone may need to be reset and held in place with a splint or cast if the lump results from a fracture. Surgery may be required to realign the bone and secure it with pins, screws, or plates. Antibiotics may be recommended if there is an infection. If the lump is brought on by calcium deposits, it could be treated non-surgically with steroid injections or physical therapy.

Are there any adverse effects from clavicle bone lumps?

A clavicle bone bulge may have side effects, including persistent discomfort, restricted range of motion, and distortion of the bone or surrounding tissues. If an infection is the reason for the lump, it might spread to other parts of the body and result in significant health issues. Getting medical help as soon as possible is critical if a lump is present.

How can I stop the clavicle bone lumps from occurring?

The most significant defense against developing a bump on the clavicle bone is to safeguard your shoulder and arm. While participating in activities that might increase your chance of suffering a traumatic injury, such as contact sports, wear protective equipment. Also, using appropriate forms while doing any physical exercise, including lifting weights, is crucial. Get immediate medical assistance if you feel any pain or soreness in the region.

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Editorial Team
By Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.

Discussion Comments

By anon988990 — On Feb 15, 2015

My seven-year-old old has a large lump on his collar bone. It doesn't move and feels like a bone. He's not in any pain and he hasn't been sick. It's right where the two collar bones meet under the neck on the left side.

By anon975134 — On Oct 24, 2014

@literally45: I too, discovered a lump on my clavicle bone at the throat end by chance. I just happened to touch that part of my throat area and there it was; a lump neither I nor my primary care doctor had noticed before. I had an X-ray this week and now the radiologist is recommending an MRI to further rule out anything serious. I am considering the MRI.

I have never broken my collar bone to the best of my knowledge so this is quite a surprise and somewhat disconcerting, too. Get yourself checked out.

By anon949803 — On May 07, 2014

I had a compound fracture of my clavicle in 1996 when I was 16. It was very serious. I was knocked down by large man who fell on top of me as I broke the fall for both of us once on a parked car and then on concrete.

He weighed 225 and I weighed 125 at that time. After I turned 22 in 2002, I went to a doctor and he said I had a floater and he suggested surgery which they would either rebreak my collar bone and align the bones again or just leave it the way it is.

It still hurts now and it seems like the part of the collar bone that it connects to are overlapped and the bone has continued to grow as if it's trying to reach the shoulder. Is that possible?

By anon933345 — On Feb 15, 2014

I have swelling and a very painful lump on my left clavicle. The doctor insisted I get it x-rayed. I have not heard from him and the hard lump continues to swell and become more painful.

By anon344651 — On Aug 11, 2013

I developed a very painful lump on my left clavicle about two weeks after being admitted to hospital for back pains. Doctors - and I mean several doctors - all dismissed it as being nothing serious. Eventually, after much insistence, I had a CT and was diagnosed with lung cancer. The lump and the back pains were directly linked to the cancer. Do not wait to get tested.

By anon336397 — On May 28, 2013

My dad has an egg size lump under his collarbone which is about four inches from the location where he had a large melanoma removed one year ago. Is this an indication the melanoma is back?

By anon316218 — On Jan 28, 2013

My daughter 25, has endometriosis and just discovered a very painful bump on her clavicle. What could it be? Any answer would be helpful.

By ysmina — On Jul 13, 2012
@literally45 -- Please don't delay an appointment with the doctor. Whatever it may be, find out now, so that you can do what's necessary.

I don't want to scare you but a close friend of mine also discovered several small lumps on her collar bone a couple of years ago, along with a really odd symptom- itching. She wasn't too worried about it either but had it checked out immediately.

An ultrasound and biopsy later, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer of white blood cells. Thankfully, it was still in the early stages and she beat it quickly. But if she had delayed the examination for a long time, the cancer could have entered a more dangerous stage.

By ddljohn — On Jul 12, 2012
@literally45 -- I have a lump on my collar bone that formed while it was healing. It was fractured in a car accident several years ago. A big lump formed right on top of the fracture and grew to a huge size. I didn't have surgery for my fracture and my recovery was long and painful. I was in physical therapy for a long time. The lump has gotten a little smaller but it's still there. My wife suggested that I get it removed but I don't mind it.

There is no way for you to know what's going on without getting examined. The collarbone can actually fracture easily in adults too. My doctor said another patient of his fractured it while coughing! So I think you would get an x-ray first to make sure that there isn't a fracture. If there is nothing there, then you'll probably get a CT scan to check for tumors.

Yes, the lump could be nothing important, but it could also be a tumor. Do you really want to take that risk? If I were you, I would go and get seen as soon as possible and find out the cause.

By literally45 — On Jul 12, 2012

Last week, I discovered a soft lump on my clavicle bone by chance. I have not suffered from a fracture there in the past, nor do I have any history of cysts or tumors. The lump is also not painful. Has anyone had something similar to this before? If so, what did it turn out to be?

I will make an appointment in the next couple of weeks with my doctor although I'm not sure what all the doctor will have to do for a diagnosis. Do you think I should just leave it be for now and maybe it'll go away on its own? Does that ever happen?

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