Shoulder Separation

A shoulder separation is not truly an injury to the shoulder joint. The injury actually involves the acromioclavicular joint (also called the AC joint).

The AC joint is where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade (acromion).

Cause

The most common cause for a separation of the AC joint is from a fall directly onto the shoulder. The fall injures the ligaments that surround and stabilize the AC joint.

If the force is severe enough, the ligaments attaching to the underside of the clavicle are torn. This causes the “separation” of the collarbone and wingbone.

The wingbone actually moves downward from the weight of the arm. This creates a “bump” or bulge above the shoulder.

Symptoms

This figure shows the intact ligaments around the acromioclavicular joint. The red arrow points to the ligaments that are around the joint itself. The gray arrow points out the important stabilizing ligaments underneath the collarbone.

The injury can range from a little change in configuration with mild pain, to quite deforming and very painful. Good pain-free function often returns even with a lot of deformity. The greater the deformity, the longer it takes for pain-free function to return.

A mild shoulder separation involves a sprain of the AC ligament that does not move the collarbone and looks normal on X-rays.

A more serious injury tears the AC ligament and sprains or slightly tears the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament, putting the collarbone out of alignment to some extent.

The most severe shoulder separation completely tears both the AC and CC ligaments and puts the AC joint noticeably out of position.

Shoulder Conditions

  • Bankart Lesion
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture
  • Broken Collarbone
  • Burners & Stinger
  • Bursitis
  • Chronic Shoulder Instability
  • Fracture of the Shoulder Blade
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Labral Tear
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Shoulder Dislocation
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Shoulder Separation
  • Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP)
  • Throwing Injuries[/li_item|

Shoulder Treatments

  • Acromioplasty
  • Arthroscopic Bankart Repair
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture Surgery
  • Biceps Tenodesis
  • Broken Collarbone Surgery
  • Bursitis/Shoulder Impingement Surgery
  • Closed Reduction Shoulder Surgery
  • Labrum Surgery
  • Instability Shoulder Surgery
  • Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Revision Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Shoulder Arthritis Surgery
  • Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Treatment
  • Shoulder Separation Surgery
  • Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Throwing Injury Surgeries

Conservative Treatments

The Orthopedic physicians at Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic provide conservative treatment options for Shoulder conditions and injuries.

Diagnosis

Physical Examination & Patient History

During your first visit, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and medical history. During the physical examination, your doctor will check all the structures of your injury, and compare them to your non-injured anatomy.  Most injuries can be diagnosed with a thorough physical examination.

Imaging Tests

Imaging Tests Other tests which may help your doctor confirm your diagnosis include:

X-rays. Although they will not show any injury, x-rays can show whether the injury is associated with a broken bone.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. If your injury requires an MRI, this study is utilized to create a better image of soft tissues injuries. However, an MRI may not be required for your particular injury circumstance and will be ordered based on a thorough examination by your Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic Orthopedic physician.

Treatment Options

Non-Surgical

Nonsurgical treatments, such as a sling, cold packs, and medications can often help manage the pain. Sometimes, a doctor may use more complicated supports to help lessen AC joint motion and lessen pain.

Most people return to near full function with this injury, even if there is a persistent, significant deformity. Some people have continued pain in the area of the AC joint, even with only a mild deformity.

This may be due to:

  • Abnormal contact between the bone ends when the joint is in motion
  • Development of arthritis
  • Injury to a disk-like piece of cushioning cartilage that is often found between the bone ends of this joint

It is often worthwhile to wait and see if reasonable function returns without surgical treatment.

Surgical

Surgery can be considered if pain persists or the deformity is severe. A surgeon might recommend trimming back the end of the collarbone so that it does not rub against the acromion.

Where there is significant deformity, reconstructing the ligaments that attach to the underside of the collarbone is helpful. This type of surgery works well even if it is done long after the problem started.

Whether treated conservatively or with surgery, the shoulder will require rehabilitation to restore and rebuild motion, strength, and flexibility.

Shoulder Treatment Highlights

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement by Dr. Todd Kim

Dr. Todd Kim provides innovative shoulder replacement options to patients with shoulder joint compromise.

A standard total shoulder replacement is designed to work only if the rotator cuff muscles and tendons are in tact and working properly. If the rotator cuff muscles are not working properly, a Reverse Total Shoulder replacement is needed.

In a Reverse Total Shoulder replacement, the glenoid component is shaped like a ball and anchored to the scapula by screws. The humeral component then becomes the new socket of the joint and attaches to the upper end of the humerus.

The joint configuration of a Reverse Total shoulder replacement allows the patient to now us the deltoid muscle instead of the torn rotator cuff to lift the arm.

Total Shoulder Replacement by Dr. Todd Kim

Dr. Todd Kim provides innovative shoulder replacement options to patients with shoulder joint compromise.

Total shoulder replacement arthroplasty is a well-established surgery for restoring comfort and function to the arthritic shoulder.

In this procedure the arthritic ball is replaced by a smooth metal ball fixed to the arm bone (humerus) by a stem that fits within it.

The arthritic socket (glenoid) is resurfaced with high-density polyethylene prosthesis. Among the different surgical options this procedure appears to provide the most rapid and complete improvement in comfort and function for shoulders with arthritis.

Success requires technical excellence of the surgery and a commitment to the exercise program until the desired range of motion can be achieved comfortably.

Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic

The Orthopaedic physicians at Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic provide comprehensive services to all members of the family.
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