AC Joint INJURY, Treatment & Physiotherapy Melbourne
Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injury is a term used to describe an injury to the top of the shoulder, where the front of the shoulder blade (acromion) attaches to the collarbone (clavicle).
It can be caused by a traumatic event,
such as a fall directly on the outside of the shoulder,
or a collision in team sports with another player
Or, by repetitive overuse
Lifting heavy weights overhead
Excessive carrying of heavy weights
AC joint injuries are most common in individuals younger than 35 years of age, with males sustaining more traumatic AC joint injuries than females. Because younger athletes are most likely to participate in high-risk and collision activities, such as football, biking, snow sports, and rugby, traumatic AC joint injuries occur most often in this population.
AC joint injuries can be identified and effectively treated by a physiotherapist.
With an AC joint injury, you may experience:
General shoulder pain and swelling
Swelling and tenderness over the AC joint
Loss of shoulder strength
A visible bump above the shoulder
Pain when lying on the involved side
Loss of shoulder motion
A popping sound or catching sensation with movement of the shoulder
Discomfort with daily activities that stress the AC joint, like lifting objects overhead, reaching across your body, or carrying heavy objects at your side
Involves an individualised assessment and treatment plan likely involving the following components.
Range of Motion. An injury to the AC joint, whether traumatic or overuse, causes the joint to be irritated, often resulting in swelling and stiffness, causing loss of normal motion. Your physiotherapist will assess your motion and the degree of your injury, and establish a plan that will balance joint protection and motion restoration.
Strength Training. After an injury, the surrounding muscles demonstrate weakness. Your physiotherapist will design an individualized exercise program to strengthen the muscles at and around the shoulder, so that each muscle is able to properly perform its job. Rotator cuff activation is very important at this stage.
Manual Therapy. Physiotherapists are trained in manual (hands-on) therapy. If needed, your physiotherapist will gently move and mobilise your shoulder joint and surrounding muscles as needed to improve their motion, flexibility, and strength.
Pain Management. Your physiotherapist may recommend therapeutic modalities, such as ice and heat to aid in pain management.
Education. The first step to addressing your shoulder pain is modified rest. The amount of rest required varies, and largely depends on the degree of your injury. Your physiotherapist will create a personalised plan for your rehabilitation, so you can safely return to your desired daily and recreational activities.