The acromioclavicular (AC) joint — along with ligaments — connects your collarbone and shoulder blade.
An injury to this joint is a shoulder separation.
The type of shoulder separation depends on how much you tear the AC joint or coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments that hold the joint in place.
Three more types of AC injury are also possible, but rare. These involve tearing of the ligaments and surrounding muscle tissue.
Shoulder separation often happens because of a hit to:
You may damage the AC joint from a fall or tackle during a game.
To learn more about the AC joint and injuries, call a Sports Medicine expert at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678). Or, see the resources below (links will open a new browser window).
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A shoulder separation may cause symptoms such as:
You may also be able to see that the collarbone is out of place or notice a bump on the shoulder.
Your doctor will perform an exam to look for symptoms of an AC joint injury.
He or she will look at:
Your doctor will likely take an x-ray of the shoulder to see the severity of the damage and make sure you haven't fractured your collarbone.
To make an appointment for AC joint injuries, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).
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The main goals of treatment for an AC joint injury are to manage pain and allow the torn ligaments to heal.
Treatments for type I and II injuries include:
You will need to wear the sling for a few days to a week or more depending on how severe the injury.
You will need to begin physical therapy as soon as you can, and do minimal exercise with your arm to avoid frozen shoulder.
Your doctor will decide the best course of treatment, based on the extent of damage to the joint.
You may have to wear a sling and undergo physical therapy.
In some cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair the torn ligaments.
To make an appointment or learn more about AC joint injury treatment, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).
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