AC Arthritis

An Overview on AC Arthritis

AC arthritis, otherwise known as osteoarthritis of the acromioclavicular joint, is fairly common in middle aged adults and the active population. When the AC joint begins to deteriorate from loss of cartilage and causes AC joint pain, inflammation and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint, shoulder arthritis has developed. Dr. Jeff Padalecki, shoulder specialist serving the Austin, Texas communities, specializes in diagnosing and treating AC arthritis so individuals can return to the activities they love.

AC arthritis, much like other forms of shoulder arthritis, causes AC joint pain, inflammation and swelling. Osteoarthritis of the AC joint begins when cartilage in the shoulder area begins to deteriorate from normal wear and tear and/or overuse. Other causes of AC arthritis include an old AC joint injury, such as an AC joint separation, and repetitive overhead lifting. Athletes participating in contact sports, such as football and hockey, are at an elevated risk of developing shoulder arthritis if they sustain a hard fall or blunt hit to the shoulder area.

AC Arthritis Symptoms

One of the most common symptoms of AC shoulder arthritis is AC joint pain. Many patients also experience tenderness at the top of the shoulder, swelling and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint.

AC Arthritis Diagnostic Testing

Dr. Padalecki will perform a thorough physical examination in order to properly diagnosis AC joint pain caused by AC arthritis. He will examine the shoulder for tenderness over the AC joint and the level of pain experienced when the joint is in motion or compressed. In most cases, X-rays and an MRI may also be performed to confirm the shoulder arthritis diagnosis.

AC Arthritis Treatment

AC arthritis treatment typically begins with non-surgical measures such as rest, ice, cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Dr. Padalecki may recommend a surgical approach if non-surgical measures do not alleviate AC joint pain and other troublesome symptoms. The most common surgical procedure used to treat AC shoulder arthritis is resection arthroplasty. During this procedure, a small amount of bone from the end of the collarbone is removed. The removal of this area of bone leaves a space that fills with scar tissue over time.

AC Arthritis Post-Op

Dr. Padalecki will prescribe a rehabilitation program at a patient’s first post-operative visit. Rehabilitation after surgery is as important as the surgical repair itself. Without proper rehab, the chance of a full recovery is diminished. Depending on the exact surgical procedure performed, the patient will be required to do exercises and strengthening moves with a therapist to regain shoulder strength and range of motion.

For additional resources on AC arthritis, please contact the Austin, Texas orthopedic practice of Dr. Jeff Padalecki, orthopedic shoulder specialist. 

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