What is an acromioclavicular joint injury?

The acromioclavicular (AC) joint, located within the shoulder, connects the highest portion of the shoulder (acromion) with the collarbone (clavicle) and is the most frequently injured joint of the shoulder. An injury to the AC joint occurs when the acromion becomes separated from the clavicle. These injuries are graded on a spectrum ranging from a mild separation, where the ligaments are simply stretched, to a complete severing of the ligaments from their attachment sites. The more severe injuries are often the result of blunt force trauma to the shoulder seen in motor vehicle collisions or aggressive contact sports such as football or wrestling.

AC Joint Injury | Manhattan NY

What is the treatment for an AC joint separation?

AC joint injuries are rated by the severity of injury to the AC joint capsule and surrounding ligaments and are classified into six different categories. Grades 1-3 are mild sprains or stretching of the ligaments with minimal joint displacement. Grades 4-6 are the more severe injuries categorized by the complete disruption of the AC joint capsule and require surgical reconstruction to realign the clavicle with the acromion. This realignment is accomplished by reconstructing the ligament using a graft. Dr. Answorth A. Allen, an orthopedic shoulder surgeon, treats patients in Manhattan, New York City, Westchester, Long Island and surrounding areas who have suffered an AC joint injury and are in need of an AC joint surgical repair.

How is an Arthroscopic AC joint reconstruction performed?

An AC joint reconstruction is a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery using a small camera (arthroscope) and specialized surgical instruments to realign the clavicle with the acromion. The AC joint is reconstructed with a donated tendon graft, known as an allograft, that is attached to the front portion of the shoulder and anchored to the clavicle. The torn ligaments and tendon grafts are fastened with special surgical screws that are secured within the bone. Medical sutures are placed through screws to strengthen the repaired tendons and to protect the grafts during the healing process.

What are the benefits of an AC joint repair?

Dr. Allen favors the minimally invasive arthroscopic approach for an AC joint repair. This approach uses smaller incisions for the camera and specialized surgical instruments resulting in a shorter recovery period for the patient to return to their normal daily activities. Arthroscopic surgical repair also reduces the risk of infection, blood loss, as well as decreased pain and inflammation.

What is the recovery period like after AC joint repair?

The recovery period is variable as it is dependent upon the severity and complexity of the AC joint injury. Most patients can expect to return to normal daily activities 4-6 months after a successful arthroscopic AC joint reconstruction. Shoulder joint immobilization with a sling is encouraged for proper healing of the AC joint directly after surgery. Completion of a physical rehabilitation program is the key to re-establishing full range of motion and strength of the shoulder after reconstruction.

AC Joint Surgeon

Have you experienced a recent blunt force trauma to the shoulder? If so, you may benefit from arthroscopic AC joint reconstruction. While injuries to the AC joint can range in severity, more serious cases may require surgery to restore stability. Shoulder surgeon Doctor Answorth Allen is experienced in diagnosing and treating patients in Manhattan, New York City, Westchester, Long Island and surrounding areas who have experienced an AC joint injury. Contact Dr. Allen’s team today!