The acromioclavicular joint, or AC joint as it is more prevalently known as refers to the shoulder joint and the point at which the collarbone and scapula meet. Injuries to the AC joint account for between 40% and 50% of all shoulder injuries in contact sports and are most common in males under the age of 35.
The role of the AC joint is to underpin normal physiological conditions and allow gliding movement of the arms. It permits an additional range of motion to the scapula and assists in any movement to the arm, including shoulder abduction and flexion. At this joint, something known as three-dimensional motion occurs; internal rotation, upward rotation, and posterior tilting, which allows for movement as we know it. An injury to this joint, therefore, can have a profound effect on conducting daily activities. We discussed the severity of AC joint injuries in a previous post. Here, we will focus on things you may not know about an injury to the AC joint.
- Symptoms of an AC joint injury
Shoulder injuries are common, and it can often be challenging to determine whether your injury is simply a strain to the limb or if it is an injury to the AC joint. When you have an AC joint injury, the pain and discomfort experience often extends to everyday activities, significantly hindering movement throughout the day. Below is a list of common symptoms that you may experience:
- Shoulder or arm pain,
- A visible bump, bruise, or swelling of the shoulder,
- Limited shoulder mobility,
- Weakness in the shoulder, extending to the arm,
- Pain when lying on the shoulder,
- A popping sound when you move your shoulder
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is likely that you have an AC joint injury and should get in touch with our team to assess your condition and treatment options.
- Should you leave an AC joint injury untreated?
It is often very easy to ignore mild pain and discomfort of our joints and dismiss it as simple overuse; however, leaving an AC joint injury untreated can, in some cases, cause your condition to worsen. Although serious consequences are rare, it is better to play it safe when it comes to these sorts of injuries and seek medical assistance to ensure you recover fully. In most cases, getting the correct treatment can also result in a shorter healing time.
- The role of regenerative medicine in treating AC joint injuries
For the majority of people with an AC joint injury, a full assessment followed by reduced activity and rest often does the job. However, if you are experiencing repeated pain in this joint, then a more long-term option may benefit you, specifically platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections or mesenchymal stem cell therapy. The goal of these treatments is to assist in the healing process by activating your cells to regenerate new, healthy tissue. Several case studies have shown immense success in patients with AC joint injuries using these techniques, and we discuss these in more detail on our research page.
At Opus, we ensure that your injury is fully assessed so that you receive the best possible treatment that is tailored to your needs. Get in touch to discuss your recovery with one of our world renowned specialists.