A shoulder separation is not truly an injury to the shoulder joint. The injury actually involves the acromioclavicular joint (AC joint). The AC joint is where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade. The most common cause for a separation of the AC joint is from a fall directly onto the shoulder. The fall injures the ligaments that surround and stabilize the AC joint.
If the force to the joint is severe enough, the ligaments attaching to the underside of the clavicle are torn. This causes the “separation” of the collarbone and creates a bump or bulge above the shoulder. The injury can range from a little change in configuration with mild pain, to severe deformity and significant pain. The good news is pain-free function often returns even in cases with severe deformity.
Where there is significant deformity, reconstructing the ligaments that attach to the underside of the collarbone is helpful. Whether treated conservatively or with reconstructive surgery, Dr. Dietrich and her staff collaborate with some of the area’s most skilled rehabilitation specialists to manage your healing and help you restore motion, strength and flexibility.