What is AC Joint Separation?
AC joint separation, also known as shoulder separation, is a condition characterized by damage to the ligaments that connect the acromion to the collar bone. As a result, the bones do not line up properly, causing joint pain and instability.
Causes of AC Joint Separation
- A fall on the shoulder
- Lifting heavy objects
- A sports injury
- Repetitive overhead activity
- Symptoms of AC Joint Separation
- Weakness in the arm or shoulder
- Loss of motion
Diagnosis of AC Joint Separation
Diagnosis can be made based on discussion of your symptoms and a physical examination of the shoulder. A shoulder X-ray may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis of AC joint separation.
Treatment for AC Joint Separation
Conservative treatment is usually effective, but in cases of a severely unstable joint, surgery is required. The treatment methods include:
Medications: You will be provided with anti-inflammatory pain medications to reduce swelling.
Rest: You will be instructed to avoid activities that provoke pain and to make use of a sling to immobilize your shoulder and arm.
Ice: An ice pack can be applied for 15-20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and pain.
Physical therapy: Specific exercises can be done to help strengthen the shoulder muscles.
Surgery: Your doctor will make small incisions through which specialized instruments can be inserted to repair and reattach torn ligaments and stabilize the bones.