The acromioclavicular (AC), joint is located where the top of the scapula, or acromion, meets with the collar bone, or clavicle. The joint is held in place by the joint capsule and coraclavicular ligaments. The AC joint is a commonly injured, typically occurring during sports or an accident or specifically when trauma occurs to the shoulder causing the acromion to separate from the clavicle. This results in sprain or even complete dislocation. Patients who experience an AC sprain or tear typically feel sudden pain at the moment of injury. The pain may increase with daily activities, the overhead movement and pushing and pulling movements. There are three grades of joint injury:
Grade 1 sprain: the coraclavicular ligaments are stretched beyond their normal capacity
Grade 2 sprain: the coraclavicular ligaments are stretched beyond their capacity and begin to tear
Grade 3 sprain: the coraclavicular ligaments are stretched far beyond their capacity and tear completely
If the cartilage of the AC joint is injured due to trauma or arthritis other issues can develop later in life. The severity of the injury will directly relate to what type of treatment is necessary. Make sure to discuss the best possible treatment program with a Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine doctor.
Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine uses cortisone injections for reducing pain and inflammation for an array of joint injuries. In certain injuries that are solely inflammation based, such as tendonitis, cortisone injections can act as a cure but with injuries that involve tearing of ligaments, cortisone injections are used for long term inflammation reduction. For AC joint sprain, cortisone is injected into the joint to reduce pain and swelling. If more than one cortisone shots does not ease the inflammation and pain, surgery may be necessary.
Consult Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine for a recommended physical therapy plan. Therapy is conducted with the goal of decreasing the pain associated with AC joint sprain, restore the shoulder’s range of motion, and help it gradually regain strength.
Distal clavicle excision is a procedure associated with complications from bursitis and bone spurs, impingement syndrome, or AC joint injury. In the instance of injury to the AC joint some of the bone is removed from the end of the clavicle to create space, while maintaining the integrity of the ligaments surrounding it. Therefore, once healed, the shoulder should regain its strength and full range of motion. The highly trained surgeons at Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine can perform this procedure if deemed crucial.