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Healing a shoulder separation
Date:4/1/2009

ROSEMONT, ILWhile low-level shoulder separations can commonly be treated nonsurgically and high-level injuries often require surgery, a literature review published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) finds that many surgeons still disagree on the best course of treatment for those injuries that fall in between.

  • Shoulder separations, clinically known as acromioclavicular joint injuries, represent nearly half of all athletic shoulder injuries.
  • These injuries result from a fall onto the tip of the shoulder with the arm tucked in toward the body.

"Shoulder separation" is not a truly accurate term for this type of injury, which is not a separation of the shoulder joint itself, but rather a disruption or dislocation of the acromioclavicular joint (also called the AC joint), where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade (acromion).

If the force of the fall is severe enough, the ligaments attaching to the underside of the clavicle may also be torn. The severity or "type" of injury is classified by the amount and direction of joint separation seen on x-rays. If the underside of the clavicle is torn, it is referred to as a major injury. Signs and symptoms of AC joint injuries range from a minor deformity and mild pain, to a very painful, severe deformity. However, even more serious separations can often be treated successfully with proper attention.

"AC joint injuries are not benign and should not be ignored," says Ryan Simovitch, MD, orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the shoulder, Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. "Nonsurgical treatment does not mean you can neglect the injury. Many patients who follow appropriate treatment and a rehabilitation program can have clinical success without surgery. At the same time, surgery has an important role in high grade injuries."<
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Contact: Lauren Pearson
lpearson@aaos.org
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Source:Eurekalert  

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