AC Joint Dislocation

The AC-joint is located between the collar bone (clavicular) and the shoulder bone (acromion) and normally allows a gliding motion, but on dislocation causes injury and pain.

You will experience pain in the top of the shoulder, usually at night, when attempting to sleep on the shoulder. This pain may also be associated with certain activities with a lifting movement. The pain could be caused by:

  • An AC-joint injury with damage to the joint cartilage or
  • Damage to the ligaments that surround the AC-joint (with an AC-joint dislocation – grade I – V)

Your surgeon will diagnose your condition by examination and confirm it with an x-ray. Depending on the grade (Severity) of the displacement, treatment can follow two options:

  • Few symptoms (Grade I – II dislocation): the joint is best left alone or (conservative treatment, some of these patients can later become symptomatic)
  • Acute symptoms (Sever pain Grade III – V dislocation ): an operation is advised

However, because there are no clear-cut answers, your surgeon will customize your treatment to fit your particular condition. If a conservative approach is adapted (thus no operation) and the patient develops symptoms from the instability of the joint then the patient should have a procedure called an Open AC-Joint reconstruction with Gracellus Semi-Tendinosis Graft. This is where the acromion clavicular ligament is dissected from the acromion and is then attached to the end of the clavicle.

Irrespective of the operation, you will have to wear a sling for six weeks and only thereafter should you start with physiotherapy to regain mobility in your shoulder.

Read More