Clavicle: Definition and What it is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT

Clavicle Definition and Meaning

The clavicle, commonly referred to as the collarbone, is a thin S-shaped bone located between the sternum (breastbone) and the shoulder blade (scapula). You have two clavicles — one on each side of the breastbone.

Anatomy of the Clavicle

The clavicle has two main joints: the sternoclavicular joint connecting it to the chest and the acromioclavicular joint connecting it to the shoulder blade. This positioning allows the clavicle to function as a support bridge in the musculoskeletal system, enabling a wide range of shoulder and arm movements. Key upper body muscles like the deltoid and pectoralis major attach to the clavicle.

Function of the Clavicle

The clavicle plays a key role in the skeletal structure of the upper body, providing support and facilitating movement. It stabilizes the shoulder and helps the arms lift and rotate with strength and precision. The clavicle's structure also allows it to support weight and stress from the upper limbs, contributing to the overall mobility and strength of the upper body.

Various conditions can affect the clavicle, impacting mobility and comfort. These include: osteoarthritis, which can occur at the sternoclavicular or acromioclavicular joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion; and AC (acromioclavicular) joint sprains, which occur where the shoulder blade meets the collarbone. 

The clavicle is also one of the most commonly fractured bones in the body. It can be broken during an acute injury, usually from a fall, car accident, or while playing sports.

Clavicle Pain: A Hinge Health Perspective

The clavicle is very resilient and designed to recover from the kinds of issues that naturally can happen in the course of everyday activities or during exercise.

If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more damage or injury to your shoulders, chest, or arms, know this: Movement is often the fastest way to healing. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. Movement helps rehab the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that connect to the clavicle by increasing blood flow, and gradually improving their strength and flexibility.

Physical therapy can aid in the treatment and recovery of many clavicle-related conditions. A physical therapist (PT) can show you specific stretching and strengthening exercises for your upper body, shoulder, and chest that may help relieve pain, improve mobility, and restore function. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Hyland, S., & Varacallo, M. (2019, February 8). Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Clavicle. National Library of Medicine; StatPearls Publishing. 

  2. Clavicle Fractures. (2019). John Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from 

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