AC Joint Injuries

(Separated Shoulder)

What is it and how is it treated?

What is an AC Joint Injury (Separated Shoulder)?

Acromioclavicular(AC) joint injuries (also known as a separated shoulder) occur when the clavicle is forcefully dislocated from the acromion and is usually caused by a direct blow to the shoulder or falling on an outstretched arm.  There are varying degrees of severity in AC joint injuries and are classified into three categories.

  • Type I. The AC ligament is slightly torn, but there’s no damage to the other ligaments
  • Type II. A partial dislocation of the joint and complete tearing of the AC ligament with little or no damage to other ligaments
  • Type III. A complete separation of the joint.  The AC ligament, other ligaments, and the joint capsule are torn.  Displacement of the joint is visible on exam. Without the ligament support, the shoulder drops from the weight of the arm and the clavicle is pushed upward causing a noticeable bump on the top of the shoulder. 

If you have an AC joint injury the common symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the shoulder and/or arm
  • Pain when trying to move the shoulder
  • Swelling
  • A visible deformity at the top of the shoulder (with Grade III separations)
  • A “cracking” or “popping” sound when moving the shoulder

The Board Certified Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists at OrthoNeuro have helped thousands of patients with AC joint injuries return to an active and healthy lifestyle using a variety of treatment options.

How are AC Joint Injuries Treated at OrthoNeuro?

In many instances, your OrthoNeuro Shoulder Specialist will begin with conservative treatment options to treat AC joint injuries.

These treatment options can include:

  • Bracing
  • Physical therapy

If the pain and other symptoms do not subside in the course of a few weeks, or the ligaments are severely damaged, your OrthoNeuro Specialist may recommend an arthroscopic surgical procedure to repair the damaged ligaments and restore stability to the shoulder.  Using our advanced minimally invasive techniques, there is very little surgical trauma and you are able to recover and return to normal activities shortly after surgery. 

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Specialist Today! 

  • If you have been experiencing the symptoms of an AC joint injury, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 
  • We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. 
  • Best of all, most patients can be seen within 24 hours of making an appointment. 
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Meet Our Shoulder Specialists

Scott P. Stephens, MD

Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

B. Rodney Comisar, MD, FAAOS

Orthopedic Surgeon

Benjamin W. Szerlip, DO

Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

Michael B. Cannone, DO

Orthopedic Surgeon

Timothy P. Duffey, DO


Jeremy R. Mathis, DO

Orthopedic Surgeon

Keith A. LaDu, DO

Orthopedic Surgeon

J. Mark Hatheway, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon

Schedule an Appointment Today

Get started today with a comprehensive treatment plan.

Call: (614) 890-6555