AC Joint Repair

AC Joint Repair Overview

The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is found where the collarbone (clavicle) attaches to the roof of the shoulder (acromion). The coracoclavicular ligaments are extremely strong and are responsible for stabilizing the AC joint. Injuries to the AC joint are quite common in the athletic population. These injuries are usually caused by a direct hit to the top of the shoulder and can lead to a disruption of the collarbone and acromion, known as a shoulder separation. If a severe shoulder separation occurs, an AC joint repair and coracoclavicular reconstruction may be recommended by Dr. Mark Getelman, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in the Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California area, to repair the AC joint and return full joint function.

AC joint injuries are graded on a scale dependent on injury severity. A grade I or II injury involves a stretched or sprained ligament and causes mild to moderate shoulder pain. These injuries generally heal with conservative measures such as ice, rest, medications and temporary sling use. A grade III-VI injury involves more extensive tearing of the ligaments and may require surgical repair in some cases to eliminate shoulder pain and restore shoulder function.

Dr. Getelman performs an arthroscopic assisted, minimally invasive AC joint repair. During the procedure, he repositions and secures the collarbone back to its correct position, ensuring the bones are properly aligned. In most surgical cases, this surgical repair is accomplished with a coracoclavicular reconstruction which involves looping a graft, either from the patient or from a donor, from the front of the shoulder blade to the top of the collarbone.

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Arthroscopic AC Repair Protocols

After an AC joint repair and coracoclavicular reconstruction, patients will be initially immobilized in a sling and then begin a rehabilitation program to restore shoulder movement. A sling will be required for about 4-6 weeks after surgery. As the repaired ligaments heal, the sling will no longer be needed and exercises designed to restore ROM and then strengthen the shoulder joint will begin. Many patients can expect a full return to activities by 6 months after the procedure.

For additional resources on an AC joint repair and coracoclavicular repair, contact Dr. Mark Getelman, orthopedic shoulder surgeon located in the Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California communities.