Acromio-Clavicular (AC) Joint Arthritis

Acromio-Clavicular (AC) Joint Arthritis is a common condition that affects the joint at the top of the shoulder, where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the shoulder blade (scapula). This joint is called the AC joint, and arthritis in this area can cause pain and discomfort.

Causes of AC Joint Arthritis:

The most common cause of AC joint arthritis is wear and tear on the joint due to age. Other factors that can contribute to the development of this condition include:

  • Repetitive overhead motions, such as those used in sports like tennis or swimming
  • Trauma to the joint, such as a fall or direct blow to the shoulder
  • Genetics

Symptoms of AC Joint Arthritis:

Symptoms of AC joint arthritis can include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the shoulder, especially when reaching overhead or across the body
  • Swelling or a bump at the top of the shoulder
  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder
  • Clicking or popping sounds when moving the shoulder
  • Weakness in the shoulder or arm

Diagnosis of AC Joint Arthritis:

I can diagnose AC joint arthritis through a physical exam and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or ultrasound. During a physical exam, I will check for tenderness, range of motion, and any visible swelling or deformity in the shoulder. Imaging tests can confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the arthritis.

Treatment of AC Joint Arthritis:

Treatment for AC joint arthritis depends on the severity of the arthritis and the patient’s symptoms. Mild cases may be treated with rest, ice, and pain medication. More severe cases may require a combination of treatments, such as:

  • Physical therapy: exercises to help maintain range of motion and strength in the shoulder
  • Steroid injections: injections of anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Surgery: if other treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary to remove part of the collarbone.

Recovery from AC Joint Arthritis:

Recovery from AC joint arthritis depends on the severity of the arthritis and the type of treatment received. Mild cases may resolve with rest and ice, while more severe cases may require surgery and rehabilitation. Most patients are able to manage their symptoms with non-surgical treatments, but in some cases, surgery may be necessary to provide long-term relief.

In conclusion, AC Joint Arthritis is a common condition that can cause pain and discomfort in the shoulder joint. If you suspect you have AC joint arthritis, it is important to seek medical attention promptly to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. With proper treatment and rehabilitation, most people are able to manage their symptoms and maintain their shoulder function.