Shoulder separation is something that should not be confused with shoulder dislocation or partial dislocation in general. Shoulder separation is not an injury that has actually anything to do with the shoulder joint. Shoulder separation actually involves an injury that involves the AC joint (or acromioclavicular joint). This joint is usually where a person’s shoulder blade meets the collarbone.
The acromioclavicular separation is most usually caused by having an injury directly on your shoulder, like falling directly on your shoulder. Falling on your shoulder can tear the ligaments that surround your AC joint, which in turn causes the ‘separation’ of your collarbone to the acromion. The injury causes your arm to pull down on the shoulder blade, which results in separating it from the clavicle. This causes a ‘bump’ above your shoulder.
Symptoms of shoulder separation may not be noticeable minus slight pain, or you could have extreme pain as well as a giant deformity on your shoulder. The mild symptoms show up as normal in an x-ray, but can still have a sprain of your AC ligament, even if the collarbone has not moved. The more serious version of this injury, however, can involve putting the person’s collarbone completely out of alignment due to slight or sprain tears in the CC ligament (coracoclavicular ligament) and major tears in the acromioclavicular ligament. The AC and CC ligaments are completely torn, and the AC joint is very noticeably out of its usual position with the most severe case of shoulder separation.
Usually shoulder separations can be healed with traditional treatment which can revert the injury spot back to its full functioning ligament once more, even if the patient has had extreme deformity. Most nonsurgical treatments for shoulder separation can include medication, ice packs, and putting your arm in a sling so that you can cease as much mobilization as much as possible.
Patients who get through having shoulder separation, depending on the seriousness of the injury to the AC joint, may be prone to getting arthritis in the joint. This could be the result in strange and unusual contact between the bone edges while having the injury. Usually, though, normal treatment of medication, steroids and making sure you minimize how much you do while undergoing treatment can be extremely helpful in calming down symptoms.
If the usual treatments have not given you relief from the pain, or if your shoulder has suffered extreme deformity, the patient may have to look into having shoulder separation surgery. Make sure to ask your orthopedic surgeon before making the final decision, however. No matter what option you choose for treatment, you will be required to rehabilitate in order to fix your strength, flexibility, and complete motion in your shoulder.
It’s recommended with extreme deformity to perhaps suggest reconstruction of your ligaments with your orthopedic surgeon. Usually shaving the end of the collarbone to prevent any further rubbing can help the potential of acromioclavicular joint getting arthritis.
For detailed information about this condition and treatments such as Shoulder Separation please visit: AAOS Online Service Fact Sheet – Shoulder Separation