Acromioclavicular joint pain

Acromioclavicular joint pain

Acromioclavicular joint pain is a pain in the Acromioclavicular joint (ACJ). This is one of the joint in your shoulder complex. Your shoulder complex is made of 3 bones, arm bone(Humerus), shoulder blade(Scapula) and the collar bone(clavicle). ACJ is at the top of the shoulder where your shoulder blade meets the collar bone. Ligaments hold these bones together. Ligaments are soft tissues that connect bones together.

Cause of Acromioclavicular joint Pain

Pain in the ACJ can be due to 2 reasons one is traumatic and the other is degeneration. Trauma to the ACJ /ACJ separation is common in direct fall on the shoulder which causes sprain to the ligaments that connects the two bones. The injury is graded depending on the amount the joint has moved or degree of injury to the ligaments that stabilizes the joint. The joint may be sprained or dislocated.

In case of degeneration there will be thinning of the cartilage and bony spurs that restricts the mobility of the joint. This is common in people who does repeated overhead or cross body activities using their arms.

Symptoms of Acromioclavicular joint

When the joint is injured or in degeneration you feel pain on the top and side of the shoulder especially when reaching up high or across the body.

In case of trauma you can have mild tenderness to intense pain depending on the severity. There may be pain in your neck and deltoid muscle which is on your upper arm. The ACJ may become swollen. The Injury is graded depending on the severity and the torn ligaments.

Treatment for Acromioclavicular joint Pain

In case of trauma, if there is no severe instability the initial management is conservative treatment with immobilisation with sling and Physiotherapy.

 Physiotherapy management for ACJ pain includes Taping, cryotherapy, moist heat, electro therapy, acupuncture, exercises to increase range of motion in the shoulder, stretching, strengthening exercises, stabilization exercises and manual therapy. Your Physiotherapist will be able to show you how to keep your shoulder moving, but avoiding pain at the same time. Once there is stability in the joint and range of movement is full the strengthening exercises are further progressed to functional or sports specific skills.