Published: Sept. 26, 2011
Updated: Mar. 20, 2012
Shoulder separation, or acromioclavicular (AC) dislocation, is an injury actually involving the AC joint -- not the shoulder joint, as commonly thought. The AC joint is where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade (acromion).
Shoulder separation often involves a soft-tissue or ligament injury, but may also include fracture (broken bone). Because shoulder separation actaully affects the AC joint, it is sometimes referred to as AC shoulder separation.
Shoulder separation is caused by sudden trauma to the shoulder, in events such as a fall with an outstretched hand, bicycle or car accidents, or from direct blows as experienced in full-contact sports such as football, rugby, or hockey.
Symptoms of a separated shoulder include:
A physical examination by your doctor will help determine if you have a separated shoulder. Your doctor may also use x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assist with diagnosis and to rule out fracture.
AC shoulder separation treatments typically include:
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary, including arthroscoptic AC shoulder separation repair.
Treatments for separated shoulders are offered at locations convenient to Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Watch a video about AC shoulder separation and treatments for this condition.
At Duke Orthopaedics, our doctors often treat separated shoulders with arthroscoptic acromioclavicular (AC) joint separation repair. The following video demonstrates this procedure.