Dec 22, 2016 – AC Joint Injury Treatment (Part 2)



A few weeks ago we discussed the difference between a shoulder
‘separation’ and ‘dislocation.’ In this blog we’ll talk about what to
do with that painful separated AC joint. Even with the
‘step-deformity’ typically seen with an AC joint injury, you generally
manage these the same if they are mild injuries.

In the acute phase of 1 to 4 days you want to immobilize the area and
make it as comfortable as possible (like most acute injuries). You’ll
ice the area, use a shoulder splint, and use pain relief as needed. If
there is a lot of swelling and bruising, it can be useful to apply
athletic tape and kinesiology tape over the area to promote recycling
of fluid.

As soon as this phase is over, you need to get the shoulder moving
immediately. This happens in the form of ‘Isometric’ exercises where
you keep your shoulder in a neutral position and press into a steady
object such as a wall or piece of furniture. You can still wear a
shoulder sling, however we encourage patients to use it only when you
really have to. Continued immobilization will limit the speed of your

After 1 – 2 weeks, with the aid of a rehab specialist you will get the
range of motion back to normal, using manual therapy, as well as
exercises such as ‘wall-walks’ and ‘ dowel-asisted movements’. When
range of motion is full, you add weighted exercises, and finally
sport-specific exercises.

Full recovery of a mild AC joint injury can be as little as two weeks,
recovery of more serious injuries can take 4-6 weeks. Precautions need
to be taken after the initial injury to modify activities or wear
protective equipment during activities. Overall AC joint injuries are
relatively straight forward to manage, consult your go-to rehab
specialist for details, or contact our office for more questions!.

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