The Injury
ac_jointThe Acromioclavicular (AC) joint is the junction of the clavicle (collar bone) and the shoulder. Separation of the AC joint occurs with a fall onto the shoulder which tears the ligaments that stabilize the clavicle. This results in elevation of the clavicle, creating a prominent bump on the top of the shoulder. Complete tearing of the ligaments is called a type three injury.

The great majority of AC separations can be treated with a sling for a few weeks to control pain and allow healing. The clavicle will always remain elevated, but function will return to normal in 90+% of cases. In very severe cases of separation, or occasionally for a professional athlete we recommend surgical repair. For the majority of these injuries, however, conservative treatment is recommended.

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AC Arthritis
Degeneration of the acromioclavicular joint is common in weight lifters and in laborers, and can be quite painful. Because of the proximity of the AC joint to the rotator cuff, patients will often be misdiagnosed as having rotator cuff problems. There will be tenderness directly over the AC joint and pain with movement of the arm across the chest to touch the opposite shoulder. Often the joint will be prominent with an overlying spur.

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Treatment Options
Treatment involves the injection of cortisone, use of ice, activity modification and occasionally surgery. Surgical treatment involves removing the arthritic portion of the clavicle, which currently is being done arthroscopically.

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After-care
Surgery is performed as an outpatient and takes one hour. The post surgical sling and bandages are removed the day after surgery. Range of motion excercises and physical therapy are begun immediately.

Prepare for your Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery

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Prognosis
85-90% of patients will obtain excellent range of motion and be able to return to weight lifting and over shoulder lifting activities. Complete recovery often takes several months.

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“ Love Dr. H. He did my knee last year and it went beautifully. He is very knowledgeable and very kind and an excellent surgeon. Just went for my shoulder--worked out great! Highly recommend him. ”

— Babyboomer Z. | San Francisco, CA

“ Once you get in to meet him... the experience is great! He's super friendly, knowledgeable and knows how to talk to patients when explaining the complexities of the problem. ”

— Dr. Phil R. | San Francisco, CA

“ Six months ago, after my last surgery with the other surgeon failed, I got in to see Dr. Halbrecht right away, and was able to schedule surgery the following week! My shoulder is soooo much better now! I feel like my nightmare is over. ”

— Kristen M. | San Francisco, CA