On this page:
- AC joint separation exercises
- AC joint injuries explained in a minute
- Taping techniques for AC joint injuries
An AC joint separation of AC joint sprain is an injury to the ligament that holds the acromioclavicular joint together. It is usually caused by fall onto an outstretched arm.
Symptoms of an AC joint sprain will include pain right at the end of the collar bone. The pain my be widespread throughout the shoulder initially but later on more localized. Pain will be worse when trying to move the arm above the shoulder. There is often swelling and depending on the extent of the injury a deformity may be seen. This is an obvious lump where the joint has been disrupted and is visible on more severe injuries.
The AC joint is short for the acromioclavicular joint. Separation of the two bones forming this joint is caused by damage to the ligaments connecting them. It is sometimes also referred to as a shoulder separation injury.
The acromioclavicular joint is formed by the outer end of the clavicle (collar bone) and the acromion process of the scapular (shoulder blade). The acromion is a bony process which protrudes forwards from the upper part of the scapular. This joint forms the highest part of the shoulder. The two bones are attached by the acromioclavicular (AC) ligament. There are several other ligaments which can be of importance in AC joint injuries, including the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament (divided into conoid and trapezoid sections) which joins the clavicle to the coracoid process, another forward protruding part of the scapula, slightly below and to the inside of the acromion.
A third ligament is the coracoacromial ligament which attaches the acromion process to the coracoid process, although it is rarely involved in this type of injury.The most common way of injuring the AC joint is by landing on the shoulder, elbow, or onto an outstretched hand.
AC joint injuries are graded from 1-6 using the Rockwood scale which classifies injuries in relation to the extent of ligament damage and the space between the acromion and clavicle.
From this point onwards the scale and grade of injury depends on the degree of displacement of the clavicle.
What can the athlete do?
What can a Sports Injury Specialist or Doctor do?
WARNING - If this injury is neglected and allowed to heal out of place this could increase the wear and tear on your joint causing you problems in the future