AC Fracture Overview
The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is located where the clavicle (collarbone) meets the highest point of the acromion (shoulder blade). Injuries to this joint are among the most common shoulder injuries in the active population. An AC fracture can occur from a direct hit to the “point” of the shoulder or from a fall onto the top of the shoulder. In a broken shoulder injury, a break or crack becomes present in the bone when viewed on an X-ray. Dr. Jeff Padalecki, orthopedic shoulder specialist in the Austin, Texas area, is well trained and experienced at treating a broken shoulder bone with both non-surgical and surgical approaches.
AC Fracture Symptoms
A broken shoulder bone in the AC joint will cause shoulder pain, swelling, bruising and limited range of motion. Some patients may also experience a visible deformity that is similar to a bump underneath the skin, representing the location of the AC fracture.
AC Fracture Diagnostic Testing
Broken shoulder cases in the AC joint area are typically diagnosed with an X-ray and a physical examination of the shoulder. An X-ray will display the break or crack in the bone. In more serious cases, 3-D imaging, such as CT scans or MRIs are often ordered to get a better picture of the fracture pattern.
AC Fracture Treatment
A broken shoulder bone in and around the AC joint is commonly treated in a sling and with other conservative measures such as rest, ice and activity modifications. In cases where there is a moderate amount of bone displacement, Dr. Padalecki may recommend shoulder surgery so the bones can be brought back together and placed in the proper position. Surgery is also often recommended in patients who have experienced an open AC fracture or if the broken bone has ruptured through the skin.
AC Fracture Post-Op
Proper rest and rehabilitation is critical to good success and improvement of pain and function after any AC fracture surgery. Dr. Padalecki will prescribe a very detailed physical therapy program that, if performed consistently and successfully, will help rehabilitate the injured shoulder. Most patients can resume normal activities within six months following surgery.
For additional information on an AC fracture, or to learn more about treatment options for a broken shoulder bone, please contact Dr. Jeff Padalecki, orthopedic shoulder specialist in the greater Austin, Texas area.