Acromioclavicular joint pain is a common cause of shoulder pain that can affect people of all ages. This causes pain and tenderness at the top of the shoulder and difficulty reaching the arm across the body. Acromioclavicular joint pain can interfere with daily activities and restrict your ability to perform any sports or exercises.
In this article, we will discuss acromioclavicular joint pain and how you can deal with it.
What is Acromioclavicular Joint Pain?
The acromioclavicular joint is located at the top of the shoulder. It occurs when the joint between the clavicle (collar bone) and acromion (part of the shoulder blade) becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes pain and tenderness.
Why does Acromioclavicular Joint Pain Occur?
There are two types of injuries, traumatic and overuse, that can lead to AC joint pain. Even if there has been no trauma or injury to the shoulder, this inflammation can occur due to wear and tear of the joint. Any repetitive activities or strain to the joint can cause inflammation. This overuse injury can lead to wearing of the cartilage and arthritis.
Many people can develop acromioclavicular joint pain after they have sustained an injury to the shoulder. Trauma to the joint such as sprains, dislocations or previous shoulder separation can lead to this pain.
Symptoms of Acromioclavicular Joint Injury
These are the following symptoms of AC joint injury:
Shoulder pain and swelling
Loss of shoulder strength
Swelling and tenderness over the AC joint
Bump above the shoulder
Loss of shoulder motion
Discomfort while doing daily activities like lifting objects or reaching across your body
How to Diagnose Acromioclavicular Joint Pain?
A proper clinical assessment is required to diagnose AC joint pain. A physiotherapist can help you diagnose AC joint injury by performing an examination. The physiotherapist will assess your problem by taking a look at your shoulder and examining it. If you have sustained an injury then an X-ray can help determine if it is AC joint injury. MRIs and ultrasound can also be useful in determining the cause of your pain.
How to Deal with Acromioclavicular Joint Pain?
If you experience this type of pain and other symptoms then the treatment can begin by resting and stopping any activities that strain your shoulder. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help with the pain. However, if the pain does not subside then that could suggest a more serious issue.
It is best to consult with your physiotherapist for a proper diagnosis. After the diagnosis, the physiotherapist will use various hands-on techniques and exercises to relieve pain and restore movement back to your shoulder.
Treatment plan can include the following:
Mobilization techniques to improve movement
Strength training and stretches to deal with any muscle imbalances
Functional training to resume various movements
If you experience AC joint pain without sustaining any injury then the physiotherapist will examine you to determine the root cause of the problem. Certain activities that you do or abnormal shoulder movements can lead to pain as well. The physiotherapist can guide you on how to perform the right movement while exercising or doing any other activity so that you do not strain your shoulder joint.
Accidents happen and you cannot control them. However, you can prevent certain activities that lead to overuse injuries. A physiotherapist can help you prevent overuse injuries by guiding you on how to properly lift heavy objects and perform exercises the right way. They can also help you maintain shoulder strength and motion to safely perform tasks.
If you are going through this type of pain then consulting a physiotherapist can help you determine the root cause of the pain and how you can deal with it.