Sternoclavicular Joint Subluxation

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An Overview on Sternoclavicular Joint Subluxation (SC Subluxation)

The sternoclavicular joint, otherwise known as the SC joint, is the connection of the collarbone (clavicle) to the breastbone (sternum). When a patient is falling, the first instinct is to put the arm out in order to protect them from impact. When this occurs, the risk for a sternoclavicular joint subluxation is enhanced. Austin, Texas orthopedic shoulder specialist, Dr. Jeff Padalecki is highly trained and experienced at treating an SC joint subluxation and returning patients to the everyday activities they love.

The SC joint is not as commonly injured as some of the other structures of the shoulder area; however, if an injury is sustained, ongoing symptoms can occur. An SC joint subluxation takes place when the collarbone and breastbone are pulled apart from their normal position, causing a displacement. The displacement causes severe pain, weakness, joint instability and loss of motion in patients. Subluxations and dislocations often emulate one another. In the case of a sternoclavicular joint subluxation, the joint is only partially dislocated with articular surfaces still remaining connected. The patient or medical professional will be able to pop the joint back in place in many cases. Once a subluxation occurs, the tendons and ligaments surrounding the bones often become weak and stretched, which puts the joint at risk for future subluxations.

SC Subluxation Symptoms

Patients who have experienced a sternoclavicular joint subluxation will typically experience an onset of sudden pain at the time of injury. The pain may become worse during overhead arm movements, heavy lifting, moving the affected arm across the body and lying on the injured side. An SC joint subluxation may also cause swelling and bruising in the injured area.

SC Subluxation Diagnostic Testing

Dr. Padalecki will conduct a physical examination to diagnosis an SC joint subluxation. X-rays, an MRI scan or a CT scan may also be performed to rule out other shoulder injuries, determine the extent of injury and confirm the diagnosis.

SC Subluxation Treatment

Dr. Padalecki will attempt to treat the sternoclavicular joint subluxation by non-operative measures, such as immobilizing the shoulder, anti-inflammatory medications, rest and ice.  Dr. Padalecki may recommend arthroscopic SC stabilization surgery in certain cases. This shoulder procedure uses tiny keyhole incisions to enter the clavicle and reinforce loose ligaments and tighten the capsule.

SC Subluxation Post-Op

A rehabilitation program will be prescribed at your first post-operative visit with Dr. Padalecki. The rehab program usually involves a 4-6 week period of immobilization with sling use. Following this, a slow, progressive return to activities will begin under the direction of a physical therapist. Rehabilitation after surgery is as important as the surgical repair itself. Without proper rehab, the chance of a full recovery is diminished.

For additional information on sternoclavicular joint subluxation, or for more resources on SC joint subluxation treatment, please contact the Austin, Texas orthopedic office of Dr. Jeff Padalecki – shoulder specialist. 

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