AC (acromioclavicular) joint pain

Shoulder

The AC joint can become a source of pain about the shoulder. The pain tends to reside about the top of the shoulder (in females at the level where the bra stap may hit). This pain can can be exacerbated by overhead lifting or bringing the arm across the chest or sleeping on the shoulder. The AC joint can be tender to the touch.

Diagnosis:

The AC joint may be tender to the touch. Bringing the arm across the chest can lead to pain over the AC joint. X rays may show arthritic changes at the AC joint (bone spurs, cysts).

Treatment:

Oral anti-inflammatories, activity modification and ice may lead to relief. If the pain doesn't resolve an injection into the joint with cortisone may lead to relief.

If non-surigical treatment doesn't lead to relief surgery may be indicated. The surgery consists of resection of a portion of the AC joint opening a space to prevent the bone ends from striking each other. This can be done via arthroscopy (or scope) or open procedure.

Rehabilitation: Typically a sling is used for a few days. Motion is encouraged immediately to prevent stiffness. Lifting a significant weight should be avoided for at least 4-6 weeks.

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