Dr. Carlos Rebollón
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Acromioclavicular dislocation is one of the most common traumatic injuries seen in a shoulder specialist’s office.
To facilitate understanding of the topic, let’s start by defining in simple terms what acromioclavicular dislocation is. Acromioclavicular dislocation is an injury caused by a direct blow, a fall, or trauma, where there is a total or partial tearing of the ligaments that connect the clavicle to the scapula.
DIAGNOSIS AND CAUSES OF ACROMIOCLAVICULAR DISLOCATION
The diagnosis of this type of injury is made by a shoulder specialist, who is the most qualified person to perform a physical examination of the joint area and assess the degree of the injury through relevant radiological studies.
The ligament tear is accompanied by the dislocation of the shoulder and clavicle, and the greater the displacement, the more severe the ligamentous injury. Acromioclavicular dislocation is characterized by symptoms such as acute pain, tenderness to touch, functional limitation, and a slight deformity that alters the normal appearance of the shoulder.
Blunt shoulder trauma, falls from motorcycles, bicycles, or skiing, and regular participation in contact sports (rugby, American football, judo, etc.) are some of the main causes of this type of injury.
GRADES OF ACROMIOCLAVICULAR DISLOCATION
TREATMENTS FOR ACROMIOCLAVICULAR DISLOCATION
The treatment method to be applied depends on the severity of the dislocation. Mild injuries, comprising types I, II, and III, can be treated with bandages and conservative methods; however, individuals with type IV, V, or VI acromioclavicular dislocation often require surgery.
Standard treatment for mild injuries includes analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications, as well as the use of a splint or sling to keep the shoulder in a resting position for a few weeks. Additionally, the doctor may suggest performing progressive mobility exercises to maintain joint function and prevent muscle atrophy.
ACROMIOCLAVICULAR DISLOCATION SURGERY
Surgery is recommended for patients with significant displacement of the clavicle, and chronic cases may require a tendon graft. This type of surgical intervention can be performed through open surgery or arthroscopy. In both cases, the shoulder specialist must have the knowledge and expertise to carry out acromioclavicular reconstruction techniques and achieve successful results.
PHYSIOTHERAPY TREATMENT FOR ACROMIOCLAVICULAR DISLOCATION
Physiotherapy support can be a great ally in overcoming acromioclavicular dislocation, especially when the physiotherapist includes isometric shoulder exercises. These exercises help manage pain, strengthen muscles, and minimize the risk of further injuries.
FAQ - ACROMIOCLAVICULAR DISLOCATION
In this section, we briefly answer some popular questions about the topic.
The recovery time for mild acromioclavicular dislocation can take around 8 weeks, and even less time for type I or II injuries. In complex cases, patients may resume basic activities within an estimated time of 2 months. However, to return to sports, a minimum of about 6 months should be waited.
Acromioclavicular dislocation can affect other internal structures. Therefore, when not adequately treated, it can lead to impaired joint function, lack of stability, and problems associated with ligaments, joint capsule, or muscles.
Arthroscopic acromioclavicular dislocation surgery (one of the most common nowadays) typically takes approximately 90 to 120 minutes. Most patients do not require hospitalization, and they can be discharged on the same day of the surgery.