Acromioclavicular- AC Joint Separation | Separated Shoulder

by Dr. Richard Bartholomew

What is the AC Joint?

AC Joint Separation photoThe AC Joint, also called the Acromioclavicular Joint, is where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade (acromion) meet and form a joint. It is a small joint, but commonly sprained in car accidents, bicycling and in contact sports. There are several ligaments surrounding the joint and depending on the severity of your ac joint injury you may have torn one or all of the ligaments.

AC joint Injury | Separated Shoulder

A separated shoulder is actually an AC joint injury. Injury occurs to the AC Joint ligaments that hold your collarbone (clavicle) to your shoulder blade. The ligaments can either partially tear or fully tear around the AC joint. When you fully tear the ligaments the clavicle “rides” up and is seeing /felt higher at the top of the shoulder. You can also fracture the outer part of the clavicle and/or the acromion and this may also look like the clavicle is riding up. Luckily, most of the injuries are mild ligament strains and not full fledged tears causing the upward displacement of the clavicle.

Separated Shoulder Treatment

Whether treated conservatively or with ac joint surgery, the shoulder will require physical therapy to restore and rebuild motion, strength, and flexibility. Proper diagnosis is imperative. With this we can tailor your therapy accordingly.

Nonsurgical Separated Shoulder Treatment

A large majority of the patients do great with a sling for comfort and early range of motion with physical therapy.

Surgical Separated Shoulder Treatment

Surgery can be considered if AC joint pain persists after nonsurgical treatment options have been tried.  There are some fractures and or ligament injuries that need to be reconstructed through surgical intervention. Again, these patients are the minority, but the goal is the same and that is to get you back to your pre-injury state.

Dr. Bartholomew, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in Michigan, specializes in the treatment for a separated shoulder. Call our office to schedule a consultation to diagnose your ac joint separation at (248) 673-0500.

Make An Appointment

To schedule an appointment, please call (248) 673-0500 ext 14 OR Make an Appointment Request online.

We are currently accepting new patients and referrals.