AC Joint Shoulder Separation
AC Joint Separation
Separated Shoulder Treatment in St. Louis, MO
The AC joint of the shoulder is a commonly injured shoulder joint. It is where the top of the shoulder blade (scapula) meets the collarbone (clavicle). An AC joint separation indicates there has been damage or injury to the ligaments joining those two bones. AC joint separation is often simply referred to as a shoulder separation.
The ligaments that may be strained or torn in an AC joint injury are the:
- Acromioclavicular (AC) ligament, which provides horizontal stability to the AC joint
- Coracoclavicular (CC) ligament, which provides vertical stability and acts as the primary support of the AC joint
An AC joint separation is most often caused by direct trauma to the joint, such as blows sustained during sports activities, in car accidents, or during falls. Repetitive stress or strain, especially involving over-the-head arm movements can increase your risk of a shoulder separation – as can arthritis.
Pain, weakness, swelling, a noticeable bump on top of the affected shoulder, and restricted shoulder movement may all indicate an AC joint injury.
Other Sources of Shoulder Pain
In addition to AC joint separation, other issues can also result in shoulder pain. Examples include:
- Shoulder dislocation As opposed to a shoulder separation, a dislocation occurs when the “ball” at the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) slips out of the “socket” of the shoulder blade.
- Rotator cuff tears These are injuries to the group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder (located atop the humerus) that power the arm.
Treatment for AC Joint Separation
The treatment you need will depend on the extent of ligament damage at your AC joint.
For minor sprains, nonsurgical remedies may alleviate your symptoms. These include rest, pain management therapies, and anti-inflammatory medication.
When surgery is required, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend procedures to reconnect torn ligaments and secure or move damaged shoulder bones. Reconstructing the ligaments often successfully resolves severe symptoms – even if the procedure is performed some time after the original injury.
No matter how you are treated – whether with conservative or surgical means – a physical therapy regimen will be needed to restore your strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected shoulder.
Shoulder Pain Treatment in St. Louis, MO
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain that might indicate a ligament injury at your AC joint – a shoulder separation – contact the board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who can accurately diagnose the problem and work with you to find the treatment approach that’s right for you. Call Dr. Jason Browdy of St. Louis, Missouri at (314) 991-2150 or request your appointment now.