The AC Joint is one place in the body that you rarely think of until you fall right on your shoulder that is. When you injure your Acromioclavicular Joint, it will put you in a great deal of pain. The injury occurs where the shoulder blade attaches to the clavicle. The injury tends to affect males under the age of 35 the most. The reason is that young athletes are more likely to take part in high-risk activities like football, skiing, biking, rugby and other sports of a similar nature.
Anatomy of AC Joint | Acromioclavicular
The clavicle and the acromion are attached by the AC joint which is also known as the Acromioclavicular joint. It is part of the soft tissue that makes up the shoulder joint. When the ligaments get stressed it creates some form of separation or tearing that creates this injury. The injury is often referred to as a shoulder separation, but it is different from the dislocated shoulder which involves the shoulder joint.
The injury is most common among athletes taking a fall and landing directly on their shoulder. The pressure pushes the Acromion inwards causing the tissues between the joints to be damaged. The injury can also occur from falling on a hand that is attempting to break the fall. This fall can also occur outside of sports from things like slipping on ice or falling off of a ladder.
Cases of AC Joint or Acromioclavicular injuries are usually graded by a physical therapist. The minor cases can heal with some rest, whereas significant circumstances require surgery and extensive rehabs to fix.
Overuse AC Joint Injury
Outside of a traumatic fall or hit to the shoulder, the AC Joint or Acromioclavicular can also become irritated due to overuse of the shoulder. The cartilage in the joint i suppose to protect it from the daily wear and tear. After some time, the cartridge may become worn down and unable to endure the stresses. Significant wearing of this cartilage is called arthritis. Overuse injuries tend to come from people who do a lot of strenuous overhead work like weight lifting or certain professions.
Symptoms of an AC Joint or Acromioclavicular Injury
- Swelling of the shoulder
- Pain in the shoulder
- Loss of shoulder strength
- Difficulty moving shoulder
- Intense distress when you lift hands overhead
- Visible bump on the shoulder
- Pain when lying on the side of pain
- Popping sound when you move your shoulder
- Pain reaching across the body
Diagnosing an AC Joint or Acromioclavicular Injury
If you think you have suffered an Acromioclavicular injury, you should get with your local healthcare provider right away. You do not want to try and deal with an injury like this on your own. A healthcare provider will be able to evaluate you and help you figure out what is going on and what the best plan of action is going forward.
For an AC Joint injury, a healthcare provider is going to start by asking you question about your medical history and how the pain started with your injury. Once they understand what is going on, they will begin an evaluation to see what else they can discover. Shoulder examination usually works to identify an AC joint injury, but sometimes doctors order imaging from an X-ray or MRI to be sure.
Treatment of Acromioclavicular
The AC joint treatment will usually begin with pain management. If someone is in too much pain or suffering from a lot of swelling, there is not much you can do until you get those things to go away. The treatment will focus on pain management by using treatment methods like stim and ice early on.
Once the pain and swelling are down, it is time to start working on a range of motion and strength again. These are slow, gradual builds to avoid reinjuring the joint. Your healthcare provider will make sure that you are not pushing too hard or fast, but also that you are challenging yourself and not just living in fear of getting hurt again.
The last step of the process for an athlete would be strength training and functional movement. The strength training is getting the body back to being strong again; the functional movement is making sure that you can endure the real demands of the sport.
Preventing Future AC Joint Problems
It is not much you can do to prevent the random falls of life and sports. The only thing you can do is prevent the overuse injuries.
- Learn when to stop pushing through the pain
- Avoid lifting overhead
- Maintain shoulder strength and mobility
- Stay in touch with healthcare provider even if you feel good
Finding The Best Local Sports Medicine Providers for the AC Joint
Kho Health is the best place to start your search for a health care provider to help you stay healthy. The key to success as an athlete is staying healthy and making sure the injuries are dealt with appropriately. Any athlete in a contact sport is at more risk of hurting their Acromioclavicular and the key to success as an athlete is staying healthy.
Kho Health lets you search for providers by type and skill. For example, you can look for a Physical Therapist with the capability of the Graston Technique. It does not matter what kind of provider you need, Kho Health can help you find them and help you to sort through their skills.
If you are unsure where to start your journey, Kho Health will ask you questions and help you figure out the best starting place. All you have to do is answer a few questions. From there Kho Health will connect you with the type of provider best suited for your needs. It does not matter if you are injured or making sure you don’t run into AC joint issues.
The platform makes it easy to compare health providers as they are all given a Kho Number. How do you decide which healthcare providers are the best? Reading bios and reviews is just not enough because you need more than that.
Skill Sets to Look for In Sports Medicine Providers
Skill sets are the things healthcare providers learn after they graduate. A healthcare provider can take courses and get certifications for different skill sets. These skill sets are valuable and help them approach injuries from different perspectives so that you can get the best help at the right time for any Acromioclavicular problems.
- Dry needling
- Joint Manipulation
- Active Release Technique
- Graston Technique
- Functional Movement Screen
- Fascial Stretching
- Strength and Conditioning Coach
- Athletic Trainer
- Sports Background
- And many more