Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon Peter D. Vizzi, MD, Treats AC Joint Separations & Other Shoulder Injuries in Lafayette, LA
An acromioclavicular (AC) joint separation (shoulder separation) usually results from a direct blow or a fall onto the “point” of a shoulder or an outstretched arm. For example, a football player who is tackled during a game or a cyclist who is thrown over the handlebars of a bicycle may sustain a shoulder separation; i.e., AC joint injury. For effective treatment for this and other sports-related injuries, many athletes and other active individuals from Lafayette, Louisiana, turn to Peter D. Vizzi, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist.
What is an AC joint separation?
A shoulder separation affects the ligaments that surround and stabilize the AC joint. Through direct trauma, the shoulder blade may be forced downward, which can potentially damage the ligaments attached to the underside of the collarbone. The damage can range from a mild sprain to a complete disruption. If a ligament is torn, the collarbone may be forced out of alignment with or completely separate from the acromion, which is part of the shoulder blade.
Depending on the extent of the injury, an AC joint separation may cause:
- Mild to severe pain that worsens with movement
- Reduced range of motion in the arm
- A visible bump above the shoulder
- Joint instability
- A popping sound that occurs with joint movement
How is an AC joint separation treated?
Mild to moderate shoulder separations can often be effectively addressed with nonsurgical therapies, such as:
- Ice applications
- A sling, which can be worn to stabilize and protect the joint as it heals
- Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications
After the pain and swelling subside, a rehabilitation program can be started to restore shoulder strength and range of motion. This type of lower grade injury typically heals and allow for a return to activity within a few months.
Surgery may be suggested to an address an AC joint separation if conservative treatment does not provide meaningful relief or if there is a high-grade injury with significant displacement of the clavicle with respect to the acromion. In this situation, Dr. Vizzi may discuss surgically reconstructing the damaged ligaments to realign the clavicle to the acromion.
To help ensure proper healing and a full return to activity, an AC joint separation should receive prompt medical attention. If you’ve injured your shoulder, contact Dr. Vizzi’s office in Lafayette, LA, to request a consultation today.