Monday, February 4, 2013

Broke My Collarbone

Ever since I took up mountain biking, I expected one day I would break my bone. Almost all my experienced riding mates had their fair share of broken bones: collarbones, ribs, wrists, fingers, ankles, arms, shines, you name it. Unless you keep within your comfort zones and ride like a lame duck, accident tends to happen when you test your limit by attempting stunt that is beyond your comfort zones. Off course, we can always learn in a safe manner under qualified instructors. Even if you reached a certain level of competency, you would always want to push the boundary further. There is no end to it. On February 2nd 2013, I broke my right collarbone at Bandar Seri Alam mini DH track (Johor, Malaysia) while attempting a jump.

Refer to the above video, this is the place where I broke my collarbone. Not a difficult jump, as you could  see from the video that I cleared it by squashing the jump to minimize probability of falling and speed loss. That was my 2nd attempt.

As I gained confident, I wanted to try something new. I wanted to jump as high and as far as possible. I wanted my riding mate to capture the heroic moment so I could use it as my profile picture. I paid a hefty price.

The third attempt was a disaster. I focused my line of sight at the landing point when I jump. I also intentionally leaned forward thinking that I could gain more air time, and "push" the bike further to the landing point. A silly assumption that cost a broken collarbone. Ironically, I was confident and enjoying the air time. By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late to correct.

Fortunately or unfortunately the death grip kept my hands on the bars, and let the front fork took the shock of landing. Refer to the left photo, the front fork absorbed most of the force, otherwise my collarbone could have been worse. Instinctively, I attempted to rollover but the damage had been done. I landed on my right shoulder.

One school of thought is to push away the bike while on air. I think it really depends on situation. I might have done that if the fall was down the cliff. Well, it was easier to say than done.

I was in deep pain after the catastrophic landing. I remained at that position for almost 3 minutes. One theory is that my collarbone absorbed the impact and broke into two pieces to prevent the force from damaging other vital parts of my body, such as spines and organs. Another theory is that my neck brace helps to divert the force to the collarbone, thereby saving my spines from injury. Whichever it is, the damage could have been worse.

I went to A&E and the doctor advised that surgery was not necessary. I would have to let the collarbone heal by itself. Some of my friends advised me to go for surgery to speed up the recovery time and minimize pain. I was in the opinion of letting nature takes its cause. The photo illustrates the swelling one day after the collarbone broke. On the third day, the blood clot flowed to the right chest and lower part of the body. For now, pain killer is my friend.

My only injuries are the right collarbone and abrasions at the right side of my back. The injuries show that I rolled over from the right side of my shoulder. My hands, wrists, arms, legs and foot were all intact without a single bruise or abrasion. If I wore body armor, I could have saved my back from abrasions but not my collarbone from breaking.
The healing processing will be long and painful. Depending on the age of the rider and the depth of damage to the collarbone, typically it takes about 16 weeks to heal completely. In order to speed up the healing process, I took calcium supplement and exposed myself under the sun on a daily basis so that my body could produce vitamin D to heal the broken collarbone. Hopefully it helps to speed up the recovery process. I plan to go back to Bandar Seri Alam to whack the track again.

After two weeks of agony, the medical review on 13 Feb unfortunately unveiled that my collarbone has broken into few pieces. The orthopedic recommended surgery to hold up the bones by using metal plate and screws. Hopefully, the surgery would speed up the healing process. Well, I should have listened to my friends to opt for surgery rather than obligated to the advise of the ER doctor. As what my friend said, better be late than never.

The left photo illustrates the protruding collarbone after the swelling has subsided. The sensation of broken bones rubbing each other can be felt as my arm moves. Thanks to medical science, the pain killers are powerful enough to seal the pain. For now, I look forward to 15 Feb to have my collarbone tidy up.

Finally 15 Feb had arrived. I was admitted in the hospital at 12pm, and the surgery was performed about 3pm. One thing good about GA is that I was put to sleep and the next time I woke up everything was over. I was told by the surgeon that I bite my own lip during the operation. The photo illustrates the stitches after the ops. The surgery went well, and I was given almost one month of hospitalization leave to recover at home.

Look forward to speedy recovery!

12 days after my surgery, this was how my collarbone looks like. I was advised by doc to sling my right arm for another one week, as the bones were too weak to hold the arm. Started therapy and hope to get back into action soon. Doc has not cleared me for June DH ride in Bandung, but happy to be able to get back to work on 11 March.

On my road to recovery. Last x-ray taken on 8th May 2013, about 12 weeks after surgery. I am ready to go DH ride at Buda (Batam) in Indonesia. 


  1. Take care and rest well. Sucks to break bones especially when you don't have the luxury of youth.

    You'll be back on the bike in no time!


    1. Yes, it sucks. My bikes keep staring at me whenever I walk pass. Can't wait to be back on the bike soon. Thanks for the greeting Melvin!

  2. At least you still got your nice pics for your profile, rest well!

  3. Brother,

    Take care and best of luck for the ops...It's just part and parcel of life and these will pass very fast...

    1. Thanks Alex bro! Appreciate your call and greetings. Look forward to speedy recovery, Cheers!

  4. Replies
    1. Did a jump on my mountain bike and crash. Landed on my shoulder and broke the collarbone.

  5. Chris,

    Can I check with you where did you get your collar bone fixed and how much did you pay for it?


    1. Did it at Changi Hospital, about $10k because I opt for A1 ward. All covered by insurance, did not pay a single cent. I don't advise going Changi Hospital to fix your bones. Would have gone for private hospital or Alexandra hospital. What happen to you?

  6. i broke my left collar bone. this wednesday going for op. private hospital. will cost me 23k plus.

    was quite upset as ttsh ortho told mei had malunion. private hospital said it was in fact non 7nion.

  7. How is the hardware affecting you? did you get it removed recently?

    Just to add, i broke it while playing soccer. went to ttsh A&E and followed up there for 6 months. the ttsh ortho told me that the bones heals but not in a correct manner (malunion). i proceeded to do gym but started getting strange neck pains and decided to see a private ortho. the ortho said that there was no union between the bones and suggested plate and nails.

    1. Feel a bit strange, even after 2 years. The numb feeling due to surgery still there, but getting lesser over the years. I will most probably leave the metal there forever. Don't like the idea of going through the surgery process again. Surgery is the right choice, recovery will be speedy. Good luck bro!