How is AC Joint Separation Treated?
Mild AC separations can often be treated by rest and sling use followed by a short physical therapy program. However, in cases of a severe separation or in cases where an AC separation is not healing, surgery is often warranted because chronic shoulder instability and frequent separations and dislocations can occur on a daily basis following the initial injury. Thus, the goal of a surgical AC separation treatment is to secure the collarbone back into its normal position by attaching very strong sutures to the collarbone and front of the shoulder blade. This is often accompanied by reconstruction of the coracoclavicular ligaments, which involves looping a donated graft from the front of the shoulder blade to the top of the collarbone. Dr. Padalecki performs this surgery with the use of the arthroscopic camera as well as a small incision at the top of the shoulder.
Following a surgical AC separation treatment, patients will start shoulder motion under the direction of a therapist. Patients will be asked to wear a sling for protection for many weeks following surgery. Eventually, after the ligaments heal, patients will be allowed to progressively strengthen the shoulder and discard the sling. Return to sporting activities usually occurs around 3 to 4 months after surgery.
For more information on AC joint injuries, or to learn more about AC separation treatment, please contact the office of Dr. Jeff Padalecki, Austin, Texas orthopedic shoulder surgeon.