Your Guide to an AC Joint Injury

Here at Physio Performance Drogheda, we treat a lot of shoulder injuries on a daily basis. One source of shoulder pain we see most commonly is an AC joint sprain.

The acromioclavicular joint is where the acromion of your scapula meets the clavicle bone on the front of your chest/shoulder. The AC joint is most usually injured from direct trauma or a fall onto an outstretched elbow/wrist. This usually happens in contact sports.

AC Joint Stabilisation | Dr Raymond Yu

An AC joint sprain will usually present with a definite moment/mechanism of injury, as well as pain and tenderness over the joint, pain that may radiate into the neck and shoulder muscles and even down the arm, difficulty reaching across body, putting arm overhead, reaching behind body, carrying and even pain during the night affecting sleep.

Grades

AC joint sprains can be classified into six different grades:

Grade 1: slight sprain of ligaments around joint.

Grade 2: acromioclavicular ligament is torn, other ligaments intact, clavicle will displace superiorly to the acromion which can be felt on palpation.

Grade 3: acromioclavicular and coracoclavicular ligaments are torn.

Grade 4: grade 3 injury with coracoclavicular ligament torn off the clavicle with some displacement of the clavicle.

Grade 5: a grade 3 injury with greater displacement of the clavicle posteriorly.

Grade 6: a grade 3 injury with dislocation of the clavicle.

Classification of AC Joint Separation | Best Shoulder Doctor in India

Treatment

While grades 1-3 can be managed with conservative rehabilitation, the more severe grades 4-6 will typically need surgical intervention to stabilize the joint. Typically the limb, regardless of grade of injury, will be immobilized for a couple of days (or weeks if surgery is required) to allow for some relief from pain/swelling. An injury to the AC joint typically causes the joint to be irritated, often resulting in swelling and stiffness, causing loss of normal motion.

Motions that are usually most difficult after an AC joint injury are reaching across your body and lifting your arm directly overhead. While it is important to regain your normal shoulder motion, it is also important to allow your injury to heal without placing excessive stress on the healing joint. Therefore once range of motion has been suitably restored, strength training can begin in the area.

Acromioclavicular Joint Pain - Shoulder Pain - Complete Physio

All of the muscles near the shoulder and elbow as well as those of the upper back, work together to allow for normal, coordinated upper-body motion. Therefore, regaining  the strength of all the upper-body muscles is crucial to making sure the shoulder joint is protected and moves efficiently. 

Return to sport is considered when there is full and pain free range of motion of the affected shoulder, normal strength in all positions for the shoulder, particularly flexion and horizontal abduction/adduction, sport specific skills can be performed pain free, while tape may be used to help support the joint.

STRAPPING SHOULDER - SPORTTAPE - Winning Tapes For Sport


The Physio Performance Way:

We are the specialists here in the Drogheda area dealing with AC Joint Sprains.

We can guide you right through the whole journey: From the initial diagnosis to a full recovery.

A rehabilitation program will be customised for you to help you regain your range of motion and help you build a more confident and stronger shoulder.

Next step: 

Want to get in touch with our team?

Looking for some advice?

We’d love to help!

You can contact us on 041-9877059 or at info@physioperformance.ie. You can also book an appointment online with us HERE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.