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
- Decreased range of motion
- Inability to raise the arm
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.
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.