What is the AC joint?
The acromioclavicular, or AC, joint is a joint in the shoulder where two bones connect. One of these bones is the collarbone.
The second bone is part of the shoulder blade, which is the big bone behind the shoulder that also forms part of the shoulder joint. The portion of the shoulder blade that meets the collarbone is called the acromion.
AC joint injury symptoms.
A shoulder separation may cause symptoms such as:
- Pain with any arm motion as well around the joint and in the area of the coracoclavicular ligaments.
- Limited movement in the shoulder.
- Tenderness at the top of the shoulder.
- Swelling is present.
- There may be some bruising around joint.
- You may also see that the collarbone is out of place or notice a bump on the shoulder.
What are the Most Common Causes of AC Joint Pain?
Chronic irritation from repeated overhead movements:
Contact sports with high-risk for falls and impacts:
Acromioclavicular injury is specified as a type I, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, depending upon the extent of injury and number of ligaments involved.
- Type 1 is a simple sprain to the AC joint with minor damage to the ligament and no separation of bones.
- Type 2 injuries involve a complete tear of the AC ligaments and a sprain or partial tear of the coracoclavicular ligaments.
- Type 3 injuries involve a complete tear of both the AC and coracoclavicular ligaments
- Type 4, 5, 6 injuries are the most severe. Treatment often requires surgery.
Exercises for joint sprain.
Movement of the joint will help increase the healing and decrease scarring.
Use a chair for balance, and lean over so your arm hangs down towards the ground. Move your body, not your arm in circles so your arm swings around like a pendulum.
- Isometric exercises
Isometrics are when you are treating the muscles, but not actually making the movement. you can do these exercises against a wall. Bend your elbow with your fist out in front of you. Push your fist into your other hand gently towards your stomach and hold for 3-5 seconds. Then put your other hand on the outside of your fist, and push out gently for 3-5 seconds. Don’t push too hard. You just want to feel a little bit of pressure in your shoulder area.
- Shoulder external rotation with a resistive band.
Try to keep your elbows by your sides throughout the exercise. Keep your elbows at about a 90 degree angle and your thumbs up towards the ceiling. Slowly pull both arms out away from each other keeping your elbows at your side, and then slowly come back in. Start off with 10 of these, and then work your way up to 20-25. If that becomes easy, then move up with resistive bands.
Your Specialist, or a biokineticist, will discuss the benefits you can expect from an exercise program.