AC JOINT INJURIES (ACROMIOCLAVICULAR)
The AC joint is located at the top of the shoulder joint and is made up by the bony prominence of the the acromion on the scapula (shoulder blade) and the end of the clavicle (collarbone).
The joint is supported by 3 ligaments:
1. Acriomio-clavicular ligament
2. Coracoacromial ligament
3. Coroco-clavicular ligament (made up the conoid and trapezoid ligament)
The main function of the AC joint is:
- To allow/prevent the scapular within a optimal range of rotation
- Allow for force transmission from the arm to the shoulder
WHAT CAUSES AN AC JOINT INJURY?
Most AC joint injuries are caused by trauma from contact sports. Due to the nature of its anatomy, impacting the tip of the shoulder with a high level of force can cause the supporting ligaments to sprain/tear, resulting in a separation of the joint and a potentially visible bump on the shoulder presenting. Additionally another common cause of an AC joint injury can result from repetitive micro-trauma to the joint which is usually seen in weight-liftings either over-loading by lifting too heavy a weight and/or poor technique.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF AN AC JOINT INJURY
- Visible bump/deformity of the top of the shoulder (usually seen in contact injuries)
- Discomfort/pain when the arm crosses the body (usually seen in overloading injuries from weight lifting)
- Pain when lying on the affected shoulder
- Pain with range of motion, in particular bringing the arm up overhead and up out to the side
- Pain and tenderness at the front and top of the shoulder joint
- Pain with lifting heavy objects, particular over head
- Decrease strength
- Swelling and bruising along the shoulder
DIAGNOSING AC JOINT INJURIES WITH SYDNEY PHYSIOTHERAPISTS
AC joint injuries can be well diagnosed by a your friendly Sydney physios, who will clinical assess eat shoulder to determine the extent/grading of the injury. Minor AC joint sprains/tears are well treated by physiotherapy interventions of manual handling modalities to decrease pain and promote range of motion, and rehab exercises to strengthen and support the joint. While some more severe gradings may require surgery to repair the damaged structures. If you require further investigation to determine the extent of injury your physiotherapist will refer to for an MRI.
SYDNEY PHYSIOTHERAPY TREATMENT FOR AC JOINT INJURIES
AC joint injuries can be very effectively managed by your your local Sydney physiotherapy clinic. They will assess your lifestyle, posture, shoulder structures and identify the main causes of condition. They will then implement the most effective treatment methods for you.
The main aims of treating AC Joint injury should be to:
- Decrease pain and improve range of motion of the shoulder
- Promote healing of the damaged structures
- Improve muscular strength, motor control and stability of the shoulder
- Manage load and return to sport/exercise
HOW TO FIX YOUR AC JOINT INJURY
See an Infinite Health Sydney physiotherapist who will be able to determine the extent of injury and begin your personalised treatment plan. They will promote recovery by decreasing your pain and improving the range of motion of your shoulder. Your personalised treatment plan should involve specific exercises to promote the repairing of the damaged structures, strengthen and support surrounding structures and facilitate your return to exercise and sport.
If you are looking to start treatment for your AC joint injury then please sign up for one of our online services for expert advice and treatment.