A shoulder separation (AC joint separation) is when the clavicle (collarbone) is separated from the acromion (the bony projection of the shoulder blade). This area known as the acromioclavicular (AC) joint is separated commonly during impact sports or falling when the arm is close to the chest.

The orthopedic shoulder surgeons at the Shoulder Surgery Center of Excellence are committed to providing comprehensive care for shoulder conditions. Our orthopedic surgeons are highly experienced at treating structural injuries to the shoulder and offer the latest and most effective treatment for all types of AC joint separation. Contact us at (888) 847-0357 for more information about treating AC joint separation today.

Types of AC Joint Separations

The AC joint is affected when the ligaments connecting the collarbone and the scapula are stretched or torn at different grades.

  • Grade I: Only the AC joint is injured, there is a mild sprain, and no disruption of the ligaments.
  • Grade II: There is damage to the AC joint, the ligaments are sprained but intact, and the nearby ligament of the coracoacromial is not affected.
  • Grade III: The coracoclavicular and AC ligaments are torn; the collarbone isn’t attached to the shoulder.
  • Grade IV: Collarbone is out of position and moved posteriorly, the shoulder muscle (deltoid) and trapezius are detached.
  • Grade V: There is further separation of the collarbone, and it is positioned more vertically than the shoulder blade.
  • Grade VI: The collarbone is dislocated below the coracoid process of the shoulder

Treatment of AC Joint Separation

Treatment for AC joint separations depends on the grade of the shoulder separation. Grade I-II AC joint separations are normally treated conservatively (slinging, icing, pain medications), and you can normally return to regular activity within 10-14 days.  Grade III shoulder separation injuries can be handled conservatively but may require surgery depending upon the individual’s physical state and age. Grades IV-VI AC joint separations usually require surgical intervention.

Shoulder arthroscopy is a modern and minimally invasive orthopedic surgery used to treat the injuries from an AC joint separation. Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to view the joint with a small fiber optic camera and video feed. During the procedure you will be placed under general anesthesia and three small incisions will be made so the camera and instruments can be inserted, allowing the orthopedic surgeon to examine and repair the joint. At the Shoulder Surgery Center of Excellence, shoulder arthroscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure.

Contact the Best Shoulder Surgeons in Los Angeles

The Shoulder Surgery Center of Excellence offers some of the best orthopedic surgeons in Los Angeles for arthroscopic shoulder procedures. If you have specific questions about treatment options for AC joint separations, you can contact us by calling (888) 847-0357 or by visiting our online contact form.

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