What is Acromioclavicular Joint Pain?

Janice CarsonJanice Carson

Acromioclavicular joint pain is a common issue that occurs in many people, especially those with active lifestyles.

While things like torn rotator cuffs are fairly well known among the general population, another type of shoulder injury that may be experienced is acromioclavicular joint pain, or AC joint pain. This affects the shoulder and may be caused by several different issues. Most often it is caused by either direct trauma that causes injury or by the gradual wear and tear within it that triggers things like arthritis of the AC joint.

What is Acromioclavicular Joint Pain?

Injuries are often caused by sports. Contact sports like football or hockey as well as activities like skiing or rock climbing are often the main triggers of this condition. Injuries usually damage a pair of major ligaments that bind the acromion to the clavicle within the shoulder. Damage to these ligaments may be minor sprains or could be more serious issues like torn ligaments. Symptoms include things like sharp pain and tenderness near the tip of the collarbone. Bruising and inflammation often occur as well, and you may actually notice a protrusion or strange shape to the shoulder due to the issue underneath.

In the case of injuries, immobilization, anti inflammatory medications, and ice packs are usually the preferred treatments that doctors will utilize.

Arthritis of the AC joint is much more difficult to deal with. This is the breakdown of cartilage and the weakening of tendons and ligaments within it over years of use. The wear and tear will often cause arthritis to set in and will present as pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Shoulder movement may also trigger pain, especially when making horizontal movements.

Managing this problem is usually the same as other arthritis related joint pain. Things like NSAIDs as well as the use of natural supplements to improve cartilage and joint strength are used, and various alternative treatments including massage and acupuncture may provide results as well.

In severe cases of acromioclavicular joint pain that aren’t helped with other treatments, surgery is often a final solution that may need to be considered. Usually, proper treatment will allow injuries to heal and just a few preventative measures will help slow the progression of arthritis. This can be a painful, debilitating type of joint pain and it’s important that sufferers take the time to manage it properly, whether it is caused by a sudden injury or by gradual wear and tear.

 

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**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available information and our estimation of efficacy.

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