AC Joint Sprain

The acromion-clavicular (AC) joint is where the shoulder blade (acromion) and the collar bone (clavicle) attach. They are connected via ligaments. When the ligaments and of the AC joint are injured, this is referred to as an AC joint sprain. During certain activities stretching forces are placed on the AC joint, if these forces are beyond what the AC joint can withstand, tearing of the ligaments may occur. An AC joint sprain can range in severity from a small sprain with minimal pain, to a severe sprain with high pain levels loss in function.

 

What are the symptoms of an AC joint sprain? 

At the time of injury, you typically experience a sudden onset of pain around the shoulder region. Pain increases with activities such as lying on the affected side, moving the arm across the body, overhead activities or during heavy lifting, pushing or pulling movements. In minor cases you may be able to continue activity but may notice pain & stiffness in the shoulder when resting after the activity. You may cradle your arm to reduce pain.  You may also notice swelling and a deformity or bump in their shoulder with the tip of their collar bone sticking up.

How can physiotherapy help? 

Physiotherapy for patients with this condition is vital to ensure full recovery and reduce the likelihood of the injury reoccurring. Treatment may include soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, ice or heat treatment, taping, sling use, activity modification advise as well as exercises to improve strength and flexibility at the region of the joint.