About aromioclavicular joint injury and our treatment for it

Acromioclavicular joint injury summary

Acromioclavicular Joint Injury is a common injury caused by trauma to the ligaments surrounding the joint, where pain and stiffness on the outer end of the collar bone affect movement of the shoulders. The best remedy for this type of injury involves exercises that restore full movement to the affected shoulder.

 

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What is acromioclavicular joint injury?
The acromioclavicular joint is where the collar bone meets the shoulder. This joint is particularly important for overhead shoulder movements, where you might raise your arms up high. An injury to this joint is often caused by a sudden fall or trauma to the shoulder joint, or falling onto an outstretched arm, though in some cases pain may also occur due to degenerative conditions in the joints.
What are the symptoms of AC join injury?

The most common symptom is pain at the end of the collar bone which may extend into the shoulder, depending on the severity of the injury. After a while the pain becomes targeted on just the joint, making arm movement very challenging, particularly above shoulder height. Swelling can also be a visual symptom, with a considerable injury causing a visible lump over the joint.

How long will my symptoms last?

This will depend on the injury sustained and its severity, as well as its underlying causes. If the injury was sustained as part of a trauma, recovery time could last anything from 1-2 weeks to 6-8 weeks, depending on how you respond to treatment and how bad the initial damage was. If the symptoms are due to wear and tear, also known as osteoarthritis, it is likely that a full recovery will never be achieved. Clinicians will be able to help you mobilise the joint to make maximum use of movement that the joint will allow. This will also help to decrease the pain and discomfort felt by the sufferer.

What is the cause of AC join injury?

This type of injury is most often sustained during a trauma or accident. It could also be caused by a direct impact on the shoulder, or falling onto an outstretched arm – the most common sporting activities where this injury crops up are rugby and mountain biking. The level of damage caused can vary from a mild sprain to a completely torn ligament. Old injuries can also be inflamed due to degenerative wear and tear, and may cause some pain.

What is the treatment for AC join injury?

Treatment varies depending on the extent of the injury and the amount of pain being experienced. Rest and constant support of the joint are generally the first calls to action following the injury, in an attempt to allow the joint to repair itself. In time, a clinician will likely encourage you to engage in light and gentle exercise, to mobilise and train the joint to move freely again. This may involve the clinician performing the exercises on your arm, to support the healing process. Ultrasounds may be required in more serious cases, and pain management treatments will be recommended.

Why is it important for me to do prescribed exercises?
The acromioclavicular joint is vital to support movement of the shoulder, particularly when lifting or moving the arm above shoulder height. By performing the exercises suggested, you should be able to regain full movement and use of the shoulder, and the quality of the exercises performed will inform your recovery.