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AC Joint Separation - Treating and Preventing AC Joint Injuries

Having healthy shoulders is essential not only for athletes, but for the average person. Shoulder pain, tenderness, and swelling can be debilitating and prevent us from doing the activities we enjoy. If you are experiencing any of these struggles, you may have an AC joint separation.

What Is An AC Joint Separation?

An acromioclavicular joint separation, or an AC joint separation occurs when the collar bone (clavicle) separates from the scapula (shoulder blade). AC injuries can range in severity from a mild dislocation to a complete separation.

What Causes An AC Separation?

AC separation is commonly caused by a fall onto the shoulder or blow directly to the shoulder. This is especially common in those who participate in a contact sport, or a sport where participants are susceptible to falls. Additionally, severe AC separation can also occur after a high-impact injury such as in a motor vehicle accident.

How Can You Know If You Have An AC Joint Tear?

Signs and symptoms of an AC joint tear can include shoulder pain, shoulder or arm weakness, shoulder bruising and swelling, limited shoulder movement, and a bump or swelling at the top of the shoulder. Dr. Jacob Rozburch can determine whether you have an AC joint tear by performing a physical or X-ray examination.

How Is An AC Joint Injury Treated?

An AC joint injury is initially treated nonsurgically by avoiding activities that can worsen shoulder pain, taking oral anti-inflammatories, applying cortisone injections to the shoulder, and with physical therapy to help regain proper movement, flexibility, and range of motion of the shoulder.

If the shoulder does not respond to nonsurgical treatments, or if the AC joint injury is severe, surgery may be recommended. In some cases, damaged portions of cartilage around the joints may be removed to reduce friction and grinding between the clavicle and scapula. In other cases, a resection of the collarbone may be performed to recreate space between the two bones and alleviate pain and inflammation. Dr. Rozbruch can help you decide which treatment options will be best for you.

How Can I Prevent An AC Joint Tear?

It is important to perform range-of-motion and strengthening exercises to maintain flexibility in the shoulder and reduce the likelihood of developing an AC joint tear. Too much pressure on the shoulder too soon can cause injury, so it is necessary to increase weight and build strength gradually.

Dr. Jacob Rozbruch and our staff welcome any questions you may have regarding shoulder surgery and orthopedic surgery. Contact our office at 212-744-9857, or request an appointment online today for your personal consultation!

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