AC Joint Injury

OPA treats a wide variety of shoulder conditions and offers comprehensive treatment options — including many non-surgical solutions.

What is an AC Joint Injury?

The acromion of the scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone) form the AC joint. The AC joint rests on the top of the shoulder—protecting it and helping it move. AC joint injuries occur with the ligament that connects the acromion and clavicle is sprained or torn.

Common Causes:

An AC joint separation, which is commonly referred to as a shoulder separation, is the most common type of AC joint injury.

    • A direct blow to the shoulder
    • Fall
    • Athletes who participate in contact sports and active individuals are most at risk.

Common symptoms of an AC joint injury may include:

    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • A visible deformity
    • Bruising

When you arrive for your initial consultation, one of our team of shoulder specialists will evaluate your areas of concern, discuss your symptoms, and develop a customized and comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. This evaluation is a necessary part of diagnosing your condition and providing the best possible care.

When diagnosing a rotator cuff tear, The OPA Shoulder Specialist:

    • A detailed description of how the injury occurred is obtained
    • Symptoms are reviewed
    • A physical examination is performed
    • Medical imaging studies (multiple view X-rays and possibly an MRI) are ordered and analyzed

Once an official diagnosis is made, a customized treatment plan is prescribed. Treatment plans decrease symptoms as quickly as possible.

Common Treatments:

AC joint injuries are classified as Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3. Grade 1 is slight displacement of the joint. Grade 2 is partial dislocation of the joint. Grade 3 is complete joint separation.
After the injury is diagnosed and classified, an OPA specialist prescribes a customized treatment plan.

Decrease inflammation and pain.

A sling immobilizes the shoulder so the injury can heal.

Activity Modification
Decreases the risk of symptom flare-ups and future injuries.

Surgery may be recommended to treat injuries that cause severe symptoms, function loss, and anatomical deformities. An OPA specialist repairs the torn ligament during an AC joint reconstruction. Suture anchors are used to repair the ligament and reattach it to the bones. You will regain strength and function during physical therapy after surgery.

Schedule Appointment with Our Shoulder Team


The OPA team includes Alaska’s leading specialists and offers some of the latest, most advanced treatment procedures available today.

OPA treats a wide variety of conditions and offers comprehensive treatment options — including many non-surgical solutions, minimally invasive arthroscopies (repairs) and total joint replacement.

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