The A/C Joint is located on the cap of your shoulder where the collar bone and the shoulder blade meet and held together by three main ligaments. When the ligaments are sprained (overstretched or torn), the results are a separated shoulder (A/C Joint separation). This is common among athletes, particularly football and hockey players. It occurs mostly due to a direct blow to the shoulder such as when players collide with each other or the ground.

Grade I and II sprains involve a stretch or partial tear of ligaments. Grade III sprains are complete tears of the ligaments and the collar bone becomes unhinged from the shoulder blade. Following injury there may be acute pain, heaviness in the arm and an inability to lift the arm over head. In Grade III sprains a deformity or bump over the joint is seen. With proper care, Grade I and II sprains may return to activities within 2-6 weeks and Grade III sprains within 6-12 weeks. It is important that full range of motion and almost full strength of the shoulder is gained prior to returning to your sport.

A thorough assessment is necessary to diagnose the severity of the injury. The arm should be rested for a few days, iced regularly and medication may be prescribed. As soon as pains allows, movement should be encouraged. Under the guidance of your physiotherapist, a range of motion stretching and strengthening program should be started. It is important to follow your physiotherapist’s instructions on the progress of the program so further injury is not sustained by the joint and maximum recovery is reached.