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Acromio-Clavicular Strain


Acromioclavicular (AC joint) strain is a ligament injury that causes pain but does not cause separation in the AC joint. Stain occurs in the ligaments found near the top of the shoulder where the clavicle or collarbone meets the upper end or acromion of the scapula, or shoulder blade. Strains cause damage to ligaments without tearing or dislocation or damage to the bones in the joint.


  • Overuse of AC joint
  • Injury to AC joint caused by falls or contact sports
  • Excessive force applied to the AC joint area


  • Lax or loose joint structure
  • Lack of mobility
  • Pain
  • Slight swelling
  • Tenderness


Your doctor will perform a complete oral and physical examination and history. Typically, diagnoses are made through physical exam but you may also receive x-rays to confirm diagnosis. Treatment is based on severity.


  • Rest
  • Pain medication
  • Arm sling
  • Physical therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Heat therapy
  • Surgery


Surgery is only performed after other methods of healing the AC joint have been attempted. Most AC joint strains respond well to rest and eventual physical therapy. It usually takes up to six weeks to regain stability, strength and range of motion in the strained joint.