Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Sprain/Separation

Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Sprain/Separation


What is an AC joint sprain/separation?



AC joint sprains/separations are very common in contact sports due to falls on the shoulder or high-speed collisions. This injury occurs when your clavicle (collarbone) separates from your acromion, an extension of your scapula (shoulder blade).  The severity of this injury and the level of pain you experience are dependent on what structures are stretched/torn and how far displaced the acromion becomes from the clavicle.


AC joint separations are typically classified into one of three different grades including:

  • Grade 1: Minimal displacement of the AC joint with the acromioclavicular ligament slightly stretched or partially torn (most common)
  • Grade 2: Partial displacement of the AC joint with a complete tear of the acromioclavicular ligament, coracoclavicular ligaments are typically intact
  • Grade 3: Complete separation of the AC joint with most to all ligaments torn, typically presents with a raised bump over the lateral aspect of the shoulder

Regaining shoulder range of motion and strength are essential to a successful recovery from an AC joint separation as well as preventative bracing/padding!


Featured Image By: Brisbane Knee & Shoulder Clinic

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