AC Separation Treatment From Renowned Shoulder Specialists in Louisville, KY
An AC separation is a shoulder injury that affects the acromioclavicular joint, which is located at the point where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest part of the shoulder blade (acromion). This type of injury often results from a hard fall directly onto the shoulder. If the force of the fall is significant, it can stretch or tear the ligaments that surround and stabilize the AC joint, allowing the clavicle and acromion to separate.
If you recently sustained a shoulder injury in a fall, you can explore your treatment options with an experienced specialist at Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic. Our privately owned practice has served as the Louisville, Kentucky, area’s premier provider of orthopedic care since 1974. Our team includes board-certified orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, and physical therapists who emphasize personalized treatment. We can help you recover from your AC separation and get back into the game.
Types of AC Injuries
Based on the severity of the injury, an AC separation may be classified as mild, moderate, or severe:
- Mild – The AC ligament was stretched but the clavicle remains in position.
- Moderate – The AC and coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments were stretched and the clavicle has moved slightly out of alignment.
- Severe – The AC and CC ligaments are torn and the shoulder blade (scapula) has moved downward from the weight of the arm, possibly creating a visible bump above the shoulder.
Treatment Options for an AC Separation
In most cases, a shoulder specialist at Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic can diagnose an AC separation after evaluating the associated pain and the visible bump above the shoulder, if present. Nonsurgical treatments such as a sling, cold therapy, and medications can be used to improve comfort as the injury heals. Most AC separations can be treated effectively without surgery, and many patients can regain full—or nearly full—function of the joint.
If an AC separation causes severe pain or a noticeable deformity, surgical treatment may be considered to:
- Trim the end of the clavicle to prevent it from grinding against the acromion during movement
- Reconstruct the ligaments that attach to the underside of the clavicle
These procedures can be performed using open or arthroscopic techniques and with or without the insertion of a surgical plate. Typically, if a plate is used during surgery, it will be removed after healing is complete. Whether an AC separation is treated conservatively or surgically, physical therapy will be important to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion to the shoulder joint.
To help ensure proper healing and a return to full use of the joint, an AC separation should be promptly treated. If you’ve injured your shoulder, contact Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic today to request a consultation with an experienced specialist at our location in Louisville, KY.