A separated shoulder (which can also be known as acromioclavicular separation, AC joint separation or AC separation), is a relatively common injury to the acromioclavicular joint. This however, should not be confused with shoulder dislocation which occurs when the humerus separates from the scapula at the glenohumeral joint.
The Acromioclavicular joint is located at the distal end of the clavicle and attaches to the acromion of the scapula. Although this is part of the shoulder, a dislocation and a separation are completely different. Acromioclavicular separation occurs as a result of a downward force being applied to the superior aspect of the acromion, either by something striking the top of the acromion or by falling directly onto it. The injury is more likely to occur if the shoulder is struck with the hand outstretched. The resultant trauma to the shoulder has a direct effect on the ligaments holding the two bones (scapula and the clavicle) together. This injury does not always involve bone fractures; however if the impact to the shoulder is severe, fractures may occur.
Separated shoulders often occur in people who participate in sports. This shoulder separation is classified into 6 types, with 1 through 3 increasing in severity, and 4 through 6 being the most severe. The most common mechanism of injury is a fall on the tip of the shoulder or a fall on an outstretched hand.
Diagnosis is based on physical examination and an x-rays of the affected shoulder, with treatment of the separated shoulder dependant on the severity of the injury. Should it be determined that surgery is required, your doctor will discuss the best course of intervention available and establish your suitability for surgery.
After surgery and in the hands of experienced users of Lockdown ACJ, typical mobilisation and rehabilitation may be as follows:
Broad arm sling for 2 weeks
Patients allowed to drive a motor vehicle at week 4 and return to work (light duties)
Light sports activity at 8 weeks
Full contact sports at 12 weeks
Please discuss a specific rehabilitation plan with you Doctor and Physiotherapist.