The acromioclavicular (AC) joint lies over the top of the shoulder. The AC joint is the gliding joint that forms the connection between the acromion of the shoulder blade (scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). It allows the shoulder to rise and fall (shrug) and helps stabilize the shoulder joint.

Injuries to the AC joint usually occur from a direct injury to the top of the shoulder or from a fall onto the outstretched arm. Fractures of the clavicle part of the AC joint are common in sports activities that involve direct contact, such as football or wrestling.

Symptoms of an AC joint injury include pain or tenderness and swelling on the top of the shoulder at the outer tip. Pain may also occur when lifting objects or raising the affected arm.

Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Mild injuries, such as sprains, are usually treated with rest, ice, medications to reduce pain and swelling, and a sling to immobilize the shoulder. Mild injuries usually heal within 2 to 4 weeks. Treatment for more severe injuries depends on the person’s age, work, and activity level.

Occasionally, surgery may be recommended for more severe injuries. Gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises will also be used to treat an AC joint injury.

Always consult your Doctor when questioning pain, injury or any “nagging” experience with possible injury. This and any article in our website on injury, disease or dysfunction is intended to inform – not to diagnose, treat or advise.