A shoulder separation is not truly an injury to the shoulder joint. The injury actually involves the acromioclavicular joint (also called the AC joint). The AC joint is where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade. The AC joint is held together by the coracoclavicular and AC ligaments. When your shoulder suffers a shoulder separation, the AC and CC ligaments are completely or partially torn. Shoulder separations are classified by injury types, depending on the severity of the ligament tear.
For example, if your shoulder joint separation doctor in NYC classifies your injury as a Type I shoulder separation injury, that means the CC ligament is undamaged but the AC ligament has been partially torn. A Type II injury means the CC ligament is either partially torn or undamaged, but the AC ligament has been completely torn. Type III shoulder joint separation injuries are the most serious, with both the CC and AC ligaments torn completely.
Types IV through VI are relatively uncommon shoulder joint separation injuries that may involve tearing of the deltoid and/or the trapezius muscle extending from the back of your neck, head and upper back.
Falling directly on the shoulder or having a powerful force hit the shoulder are the most common reasons for a shoulder joint separation. If a fall or blow is severe enough, ligaments attached to the clavicle’s underside may be torn, resulting in the separation of the wingbone and collarbone. This injury will create a bulge or bump above the shoulder. Pain is significant when deformities caused by a shoulder joint separation are prominent, or increased if the person holds something heavy in their hands.
To determine an accurate diagnosis, your shoulder joint separation doctor in NYC will check for bumps or deformities around your shoulder, evaluate your shoulder’s range of motion, assess muscle strength of your arm and shoulder and examine your shoulder for signs of damage to blood vessels or nerves. Your shoulder will also be x-rayed to help your doctor classify the separation.
Slings, medications and cold packs are nonsurgical methods for managing shoulder separation pain. Depending on the classification of your injury, your doctor may employ more complex supports to help minimize joint motion and soreness. Most people regain full function of their shoulder after treatment, even if there is a persistent deformity. Others may have continued pain within the AC joint area, even though the deformity is mild. Chronic pain stemming from shoulder joint separation may be due to abnormal contact between bone ends when the shoulder joint is moving, arthritis development or injury to cartilage meant to cushion the joint’s bone ends.
To remedy persistent severe pain or unusual shoulder deformity, your shoulder joint separation doctor in Jersey City may recommend surgery for trimming the collarbone’s end so that it no longer scrapes against the acromion. A significant deformity usually needs reconstruction of the ligaments attached to the collarbone’s underside.
For professional, caring treatment of a shoulder separation, call Regional Orthopedic today to schedule an appointment with a shoulder joint separation doctor in Jersey City.