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cromioclavicular joint (AC joint)

The acromioclavicular joint, also known as the shoulder AC joint, connects the shoulder blade to the collarbone. Wear and tear or injuries to this joint can lead to pain and restricted movement in the shoulder.

Image by Nsey Benajah

An injury to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint of the shoulder can result from direct trauma, such as a fall onto the shoulder or a collision during sports activities. It can also occur due to repetitive stress, common in sports like volleyball, handball, or boxing.


Diagnosing an AC joint injury typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the severity of the injury and its impact on surrounding tissues.


Treatment options for an AC joint injury depend on its severity. Conservative treatment may include pain medication, rest, a sling or brace for the shoulder, and physical therapy exercises to strengthen shoulder muscles and improve mobility.

In more severe cases where the AC joint is significantly damaged or dislocated, surgery may be necessary. Various surgical techniques, including open surgery or arthroscopic surgery, can be used to repair the AC joint. Rehabilitation therapy is also essential post-surgery to restore shoulder function and mobility.

In some cases, an AC joint injury may become chronic, leading to persistent issues. Surgery may be required in these cases to remove or stabilize the joint.

It's important to treat an AC joint injury promptly to prevent complications and long-term damage.

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