The acromio-clavicular joint (also called the AC joint) connects part of your shoulder blade (the acromion) to your collarbone (or clavicle). These two bones are connected by the AC ligaments which can become injured or in some cases, separated as a result of:
- Falling on an outstretched hand
- Falling on the elbow
- Falling on the shoulder
- Direct impact to the shoulder
Often, AC injuries are seen in skiing, hockey, rugby, snowboarding, football, cycling, and motor vehicle accidents. It is most common among athletes and young individuals. AC joint injuries account for more than 40% of all shoulder injuries, and can be associated with fractured collarbones, impingement syndromes, or injury of nerves and blood vessels.
Typically those with AC joint injuries present with shoulder pain on the front and top of the
shoulder. Pain may radiate to the neck or throughout the shoulder, which is often worse with movement or when trying to sleep on the injured shoulder. The joint may also become swollen or bruised. Typically, the shoulder will be tender to touch around the AC joint. There may also be restriction in movement due to pain. In some cases, there is a “step deformity” where the collarbone sits higher than the acromion. This is caused by the injured AC ligaments being unable to hold these bones together as closely as they were prior to insult.
Luckily, Physiotherapy can help with the recovery of this injury! With the appropriate rehabilitation, most individuals regain functional motion by 6 weeks and return to normal activities by 12 weeks. However, this can depend greatly on the severity of the injury.
If you think you have injured your AC joint, contact us to book an appointment with one of our Physiotherapists today!