The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is the point where the clavicle (collar bone) meets the acromion (shoulder blade). Injury to the ligaments that support this joint and connect these two bones is referred to as Acromioclavicular Joint Separation. The two main ligaments that may be affected are the acromioclavicular (AC) ligament and the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament. The injury can range from mild to severe depending on the extent of damage to the ligament and bones. Mild injuries involve slight stretching of the ligaments whereas severe injuries witness complete tearing of one or both ligaments besides the separation of the two bones. Such injuries make the joint prone to Arthritis in the future. Timely medical treatment can prevent chances of permanent shoulder deformity.


  • A direct fall on an outstretched arm or hand
  • Sudden trauma to the arm, elbow, shoulder or hand
  • Sports injuries


  • Pain in the upper part of the shoulder/collar bone which may get worse when the joint is moved
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Loss of function and difficulty in raising the arm overhead
  • Redness
  • A lump may form above the shoulder
  • Some cases may have visible shoulder deformity


  • Clinical evaluation of the injured shoulder through palpation and range of motion tests
  • Evaluation of the mode of injury, symptoms reported by the patient and the medical history
  • X-ray may be done and in some cases, the patient may be asked to hold a weight in the injured hand during the scan for better view of the injury


The treatment for AC joint separation may include:

  • Resting the injured arm and avoiding any stress to it
  • Applying ice packs at regular intervals may curb swelling and pain
  • Keep the arm elevated above chest level
  • Immobilization using a removable sling to provide support to the shoulder
  • Soft compression may be used for relief
  • Use of a shoulder brace
  • Prescription of anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and discomfort
  • Taping of the joint may be done for 2-3 weeks to improve stability
  • Specific exercises may be done to improve strength, mobility and flexibility
  • Surgical trimming of the collar bone to avoid it from getting in contact with the shoulder blade
  • Surgical reconstruction of the damaged ligaments

The shoulder specialists at OrthoTexas provide effective treatment for Acromioclavicular Joint Separation and other orthopedic conditions. Call 972-492-1334 (678.4689) to schedule an appointment.