Acromioclavicular Joint Injuries

NYC Acromioclavicular Joint Surgery

Illustration showing the bones of the shoulder

Treatment Options

AC joint surgery may be required for injuries that are more severe or those that cause prolonged pain from arthritis. At our NYC office, surgery for AC joint separation and pain may involve removing the end or restoring the position of the clavicle to relieve pain and allow the patient to resume normal functioning of the joint. AC joint procedures may be performed through arthroscopy or through a traditional open procedure, depending on the type and severity of each patient’s individual condition. Arthroscopy offers patients smaller incisions, shorter recovery times and less trauma. Your New York City shoulder surgeon will decide which type of procedure is best for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition.

The top of the shoulder (acromion) meets the collarbone (clavicle) at the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. Three ligaments hold the joint steady. An injury may stretch or tear these ligaments, resulting in an AC joint sprain, also called a separated shoulder. Most often, this occurs when a person tries to break a fall by holding his/her arm out, “jamming” the joint on impact. The AC joint can also be injured if a person falls or is hit directly on the joint. A severe sprain may cause the clavicle to dislocate (separate from the acromion) when the torn ligaments can no longer hold the bones together. Distal clavicular osteolysis is often referred to as “weight lifter’s shoulders”. The repetitive high loads put on the clavicle as it meets the acromion during weightlifting can result in a painful resorption of the distal clavicle. This may lead to associated pain, swelling and arthritis of the AC joint.

Symptoms of AC Joint Injuries

Depending on the extent of the injury, an AC joint sprain may cause mild to severe pain, tenderness, swelling, limited arm motion and visible deformity at the top of the shoulder.