About Shoulder Separations

What is it and what are my treatment options?

Shoulder Separation Overview

A separated shoulder occurs when the acromion and clavicle bone separate. Normally, the two bones articulate to form the shoulder stabilizing and protecting AC joint. A Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates’ (CONA) should see a separated shoulder as soon as possible. Delaying diagnosis and treatment may make the separation and associated symptoms worse.

Symptoms & Causes

Separated shoulder symptoms include:

  • A visible bump
  • Bruising
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Inability to raise the arm
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Weakness

A direct fall on the shoulder or a direct blow to the shoulder are the most common separated shoulder causes. Athletes, active individuals and elderly persons are most at risk.


Common Treatments:

After a thorough evaluation, a CONA shoulder specialist may recommend:

  • Immobilization in a comfortable sling
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Rest and ice

Surgery may be recommended to treat severely separated shoulders. During an AC joint reconstruction, a CONA repairs torn ligaments, repositions the bones and stabilizes the joint.


Finding out exactly how the injury occurred is an important diagnostic step. A CONA specialist asks questions and carefully listens as the patient describes their injury and symptoms. A visual and physical examination of the AC joint and shoulder are then performed. X-rays are taken to view the bones and rule out or diagnose a fracture. An MRI may be done to see if ligaments have been torn.

Make an Appointment
with A Shoulder Specialist

A CONA specialist should see a separated shoulder as soon as possible if not immediately after the injury. An accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan ensure symptom relief and AC joint restoration.

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I am happy with this practice all my questions are answered within 24 hours. Dr. Hoenig is great, his bedside manner is wonderful, he is very thorough, and makes personal calls after surgery to check on patients. I would definitely recommend to family and friends!

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4 Convenient Locations


1330 Boiling Springs Road
Suite 1600
Spartanburg, SC 29303
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


115 Deacon Tiller Ct.
Duncan, SC 29334
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Greenville Office

220 Roper Mountain Road Ext
Greenville, SC 29615
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


1075 Boiling Springs Road
Spartanburg, SC 29303
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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