Separated Shoulder

By Matt Paulus, Certified Athletic Trainer

Separated Shoulder or AC Joint Sprain

A separated shoulder, not to be confused with shoulder dislocation, often occurs during a fall on the apex or tip of the shoulder. This results in a tear of the ligaments that holds the collarbone to the top of the shoulder, known as the AC Joint (AcromioClavicular Joint). This type of injury is a ligament sprain, meaning that it varies by grade.
Severity of the sprain is based on the level of disability following the injury. Minor symptoms can occur, such as soreness or a small bump located in the area.  More serious injuries can result in loss of range of motion or lack of strength in the shoulder. In many cases, X-rays can only show evidence of more severe, or Grade Three, separations.
AC Joint

Shoulder Anatomy

Unlike many shoulder dislocations that require surgery to repair the injury, there are few cases of surgical intervention for shoulder separation. Treatment is generally conservative with short- term immobilization, ice, physical therapy, and exercise. In fact, many studies have shown that such conservative treatment and surgery essentially have the same results one year after a
shoulder-separation injury.
In sports like football, the AC Joint is protected after an injury with padding to protect it from contact.  Special shoulder pads can also be used to protect the AC Joint.
Acromioclavicular Joint

AC Joint of the Shoulder

JOI Rehab Has 12 Clinics That Treat Shoulder Pain

When treating patients for shoulder pain, clinicians typically concentrate on range-of-motion with active and passive mobility exercises. Joint mobilization, which is a hands-on technique to improve mobility of the joints, is another way to treat pain in the shoulder. In some cases, patients will undergo strength training as a way to treat their shoulder pain. Lastly, electrical modalities such as ultrasound and E-Stim (electric stimulation) may be part of the treatment to control the pain.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045

To read more about the shoulder, please read the 3 top shoulder exercises and stretches for shoulder pain.

If you have recently had a shoulder surgery please watch this helpful video: Dressing the Upper Body After an Injury or Surgery

For more information on shoulder separations, click here to watch a video provided by JOI physician Dr. Crenshaw. You can also visit JOIONLINE.NET, schedule online or call 904-JOI-2000
Book Appointment Image

Image of Book Appointment

Skip to content