Contrary to common perception, a shoulder separation does not affect the shoulder joint, but instead affects the acromioclavicular joint (AC joint), which is located at the intersection of the collarbone and the shoulder blade. Such a separation is commonly caused by a fall, which damages the ligament that protects the AC joint, hence resulting in a separation between the collarbone and the wingbone. In severe cases, the ligament might be completely torn, causing the wingbone to descend with the weight of the arm.
The symptoms of shoulder separation involve:
- Bruising or swelling in the shoulder
- Restricted shoulder movement
- An unexplained bump at the top of the shoulder
- Shoulder pain that intensifies with movement
- Weakness in the affected arm
If you experience shoulder pain that you suspect might be associated with separation, you can visit OrthoTexas, Plano for diagnosis. This usually involves an X-ray examination to identify the location of injury. Holding a weight in your hand can help to make the deformity more prominent, aiding in the diagnosis. The first step in the treatment of shoulder separation is pain management, which can be done by administering medications, or adopting conservative treatment techniques like rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
In most cases, the aforementioned non-surgical treatment options are sufficient to restore normal functioning in the affected joint. Even though the deformity might still persist, the pain is likely to be alleviated. Reasons for persistent pain might be the development of arthritis, friction between the bone ends during motion, and injury to the cushioning cartilage between the joint ends. Cases of shoulder separation which are accompanied with persistent pain or severe deformity might need surgical treatment.
Your joint doctor at OrthoTexas, Plano, can help you in deciding whether it would be advisable for you to wait and see if normalcy is restored in the joint, or if you should opt for immediate surgery. The most common surgery for shoulder separation involves trimming the end of the collarbone back to its original position, to prevent friction between this bone and the acromion. In patients with severe deformity, surgery can be performed to reconstruct the torn ligaments that join the collarbone to the wingbone.
By opting to get your shoulder separation treated at OrthoTexas, you can benefit from a holistic treatment plan that will extend well beyond your surgery. Our physical therapists and occupational therapists shall help you to restore motion in your shoulder, and rebuild strength and flexibility.