Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


My 62-year old sister was just diagnosed with Friedrich's disease. Can you tell me something about this disease?


Friedrich's disease is a rare condition affecting the collarbone (clavicle) where it attaches to the breastbone (sternum). The patient reports pain or discomfort, swelling, and crackling or popping of the joint called crepitus. There may even be a loss of arm motion on that side.

The cause of this disease remains unknown. For some reason there is a loss of blood supply to the area. The bone starts to die and decay. This process is called osteonecrosis. The bone becomes fragmented with normal, healthy bone surrounding small islands of necrotic (dying) bone.

Most often the problem solves itself and treatment isn't needed. Sometimes the end of the bone must be removed surgically before healing can occur.

Thomas O. Higginbotham, MD, and John E. Kuhn, MD. Atraumatic Disorders of the Sternoclavicular Joint. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. March/April 2005. Vol. 13. No. 2. Pp. 138-145.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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