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AC joint injury (Shoulder separation)

Injuries to the shoulder joint are common.  In a shoulder separation (also known as an acromioclavicular (AC) joint separation), the joint of the clavicle and the scapula is disrupted.

This is often the result of direct trauma to the shoulder. AC joint separation symptoms may include shoulder instability and pain, especially when making overhead movements, crossbody movements, or during sleep.  There may also be a pronounced bump or bulge at the joint line on the top of the shoulder.

Grades and treatments

Grade I:

Partial tear with less than 25% elevation

Treatment: Cross taping, ice, physical therapy program

Grade 2:

50% tear with partial elevation

Treatment: Cross taping, ice, physical therapy program 

Grade 3:

Complete rupture of all ligaments

Treatment: Surgical repair with donor tendon

 

Dr. Stone says ...

Most of my overhead athletes want their AC joint repaired as it restores length and stability to the shoulder. My repair technique preserves the end of the clavicle and rebuilds the key ligaments that are torn with new donor tissue. Combined with immediate rehabilitation, the repair has proven solid for most athletes. The cosmetic outcome is also much preferred.

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Stone, K.R., Pelsis J.R., Adelson W.S., Walgenbach, A.W. 2010.