How to Identify and Treat Acromio-Clavicular Joint and Ligament Injuries

Painful Man Holding Neck on Isolated Background

joint painFor those of you who love sports or just love working out to your best shape will know how important it is to dedicate time and efforts to getting results.

For me it was basketball, and I would spend hours together training chest passes and shooting. However after a period of time I noticed some pain in my right shoulder and thought it was a muscle catch that would go away with time and continued with my daily practice.  Over time, slowly the pain started to worsen and one fine day I noticed a small bump at the site of pain. I knew this was not good and I finally decided to go to the doctor, he told me I had a type 2 Acromio-Clavicular injury (AC injury).

Understanding Joint and Ligament Injuries

AC joint and ligament injury occurs when there is a tear in ligaments (soft tissue) that connect the collarbone to the shoulder blade. The injury can vary from a mild to a severe form. This injury commonly occurs when a person is tackled in football or falls off a bike or wrestling, boxing, playing soccer or basketball or doing strenuous lifting or pushing movements.

It is easy to assess AC joint injury as the pain is localized at the Acromio-Clavicular joint.  However pain can be extensive when the collarbone and the shoulder bone are separated. In such cases, movement of the shoulder girdle causes enormous pain in the shoulder area. A diagnosis is usually made by a physical examination followed up by a massage therapy. Your doctor may rotate or feel your sore joint, this can hurt a little but it is very important to locate the exact area where your joint hurts and what movements cause the pain. In some cases an X-rays may be required to show an AC joint disruption as well as to rule out the option of a fracture.

Treating and Managing Joint Pain

I had tried getting back to my practice routines after 2 weeks to see how it goes and it just seemed to hurt every time I attempted a shoot.  So I completely avoided practice for 6 weeks. A combination of ice treatment and some massage therapy with little pressure on the arm and shoulder muscles for 15 or 20 minutes were effective in my case.

However, in severe cases such as AC joint inflammation, corticosteroid injections may seem effective as a quick mode of treatment. Whereas for some people surgery may be required when the joint is completely torn apart.

The key point to remember is that if it hurts, slow-down or avoid training and focus on recovery to prevent a permanent injury for the rest of your life.

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