Everything you need to know about an acromioclavicular injury
The acromioclavicular, or AC joint, connects the shoulder blade to the collarbone, and an acromioclavicular injury is very common in some athletes. This type of injury is especially common in young people who play sports that involve a lot of collisions (like football), throwing sports, and overhead activities like lifting weights. Men are much more likely to get this type of injury than women are, but that is probably because they are more likely to be doing the things that cause an injury to this joint in the first place.
Symptoms of an acromioclavicular injury
In most cases, an AC injury occurs when there is either direct or indirect trauma to the joint. Direct trauma usually occurs when the person falls onto their shoulder with the arm out to his side in a lateral position. Seventy percent of all AC injuries are the result of a direct injury to the AC joint in this manner. Indirect trauma to the acromioclavicular joint is usually caused when the person falls on outstretched arms.
Classifying the acromioclavicular injury
It is very important that the AC injury is identified very soon after the trauma occurs. This is because there are six different categories for this type of injury, and each one indicates varying degrees of the injury. Type I is the most common type of AC injury, and it requires only a very small force. This is basically a sprain of the AC ligament, and it usually resolves in a week or a little longer. Usually doctors recommend an ice pack, immobilization, and anti-inflammatory medications.
Type II is a bit more serious than a type I AC injury. This one involves a sprain of the ligament, plus a rupture other ligaments in the area. Recovery from a type II injury usually takes three weeks to a month. In some cases, doctors may suggest steroid shots to help this injury heal a bit faster.
Type III involves a complete tear in the joint and ligaments in the shoulder. Most type III AC injuries are treated with immobilization, steroid injections, and anti-inflammatory medications, although some are serious enough to require surgery. Also doctors may recommend surgery for certain patients, based on whether they perform repetitive motions with that joint, those who frequently life very heavy weights, and those whose shoulders are shaped a particular way.
Type IV AC injuries also involve the trapezius muscle, which is the large triangular muscle that covers much of the upper back. This type of AC injury is usually a surgical case. If surgery is not done, then usually chronic pain results.
Type V AC injuries involve an even more serious displacement of the joint, and these types of injuries are also surgical cases for the same reasons that type IV injuries are. Type VI AC injuries are extremely rare, and they involve complete dislocation of the bottom part of the clavicle. This type of AC injury is also a surgical one.