The acromio-clavicular joint (A-C joint) refers to the junction of the collarbone (clavicle) and the roof of the shoulder (acromion bone). Articular cartilage lines the two ends of the bones that make up the A-C joint. The primary role of the A-C joint is to help enable one to raise his/her shoulder above his/her head. The A-C joint is usually injured following a direct blow. For example, cyclists who fall and hit the pavement may injure the A-C joint on impact.
- Pain and swelling on “top” of the shoulder
- A sense of instability with overhead activity
- Noticeable deformity
Diagnosis And Treatmen
Dr. Welch considers each patient’s symptoms, as well as a detailed physical examination and x-rays to make the diagnosis. A-C joint injuries are graded from I to VI. Patients who sustain Grade I, II, and III injuries are usually treated with a sling for comfort and a rehabilitation program with a physical therapist. Those patients who sustain Grade IV-VI injuries (in which the A-C joint is completely dislocated), usually require surgery. Surgery typically involves reconstruction of the A-C joint with a graft.
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