What is AC Joint Injury?
Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injury is a very common injury among physically active people. In this injury, the clavicle (collar bone) separates from the scapula (shoulder blade). It commonly caused by a fall directly on the ‘point’ of the shoulder or a direct blow received in a contact sport.
Is a shoulder separation the same as shoulder dislocation?
No. shoulder separation occurs at the junction between the clavicle (collar bone) and the scapula (shoulder blade), while a shoulder dislocation occurs at the junction between the clavicle (collar bone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (arm bone).
Do I need surgery for AC Joint injury?
Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be needed. Surgery is also an option for those who do not respond to non-operative treatments. Grade I to III injury severity respond to physiotherapy treatments while grade IV, V and VI would generally require surgery. When surgery is however, recommended, physiotherapy is very highly recommended post-surgery for a full recovery.
How do I know I have AC Joint Injury?
Pain at the top of the shoulder, aggravated by heavy lifting, overhead or across the body movements.
Swelling and/or bruising.
Loss of shoulder movement.
Some people may present with a hard, visible lump at the top of the shoulder, indicating displacement of the clavicle (collar bone).
The joint may be very unstable.
How will physiotherapy help my AC Joint injury?
A Physiotherapist’s goals of treatment will be to:
Reduce pain and inflammation
Improve your joint range of movement
Increase the shoulder muscle strength
Improve your shoulder blade and collar bone alignment
Improve your muscle length
Improve your upper limb proprioception
Improve your technique and function especially when lifting or doing overhead activities
Minimise your chance of reinjury as you return to work or sport
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