Separated Shoulder

A shoulder separation (acromioclavicular joint injury) occurs when the outer end of the collarbone (clavicle) separates from the end (acromion) of the shoulder blade because of torn ligaments.

Causes of a Separated Shoulder

A separated shoulder is a common injury among football quarterbacks, but it can happen to anyone who falls and lands on the tip of their shoulder. The result can be an injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments that hold the bones in your shoulder together.

Separated Shoulder Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a separated shoulder include severe pain at the moment the injury occurs; limited movement in the shoulder area due to pain; swelling and bruising. There may also be a possible deformity. The outer end of the collarbone may look out of place, or there may be a bump on top of the shoulder.

Separated Shoulder Treatment Options

Since the severity of injuries may vary greatly, doctors treat separated shoulders on a case-by-case basis. Generally, if your injury is mild, you will probably wear a sling for a few days until the pain subsides. Use ice during the first 48 hours. You may also use anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers. When the pain in your shoulder eases, you may resume your normal activities. However, if both ligaments are torn or your injury is severe, you may need surgery. After surgery, expect to immobilize your shoulder in a sling for up to a month. Whether treated conservatively or with surgery, your shoulder will require rehabilitation to restore and rebuild motion, strength and flexibility.

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