Acromioclavicular Joint Injury

Formed by meeting of the acromion process with the clavicle meet, the acromioclavicular joint is located at the top of the shoulder. It’s surrounded by several ligaments, including the conoid and trapezoid. The most common cause of acromioclavicular joint injuries are falls with direct impact to the shoulder, which explains why athletes and those who play contact sports are most susceptible to this type of injury, especially with the increase of participation in extreme sports. Roughly 12% of all shoulder injuries involve the acromioclavicular joint, and types of injuries can include ligament tears, which can cause sprains or strains to the joint, as well as distal clavicle and acromion process fractures. Furthermore, injury to the joint cartilage can cause arthritis later in life. Following an acromioclavicular joint injury, individuals should seek medical attention if the pain is sharp or severe or if there are signs of a break or significant limitations in movement. For sprains and strains, resting the shoulder, icing, and applying compression are all immediate remedies. If pain or mobility limitations persist for a few weeks, seek medical attention. Physical therapy can play a key role in the treatment of acromioclavicular joint injuries. Physical therapists can help not only alleviate pain, but improve range of motion. In cases where a fracture(s) has occured, physicians or surgeons will typically hold off on prescribing physical therapy until healing is evident.