Ac Joint Pain Won T Go Away
“The Acromioclavicular (AC) joint is a ball-and-socket type joint that connects the collarbone (clavicle) with the upper arm bone (humerus). The joint allows the shoulder blade (scapula) to move in an anterior/forward direction during abduction (looking up), adduction (looking down), elevation (raising your arms above your head), and internal rotation (turning your shoulders to the right). It also enables flexion (bending forward) and extension (straightening out your back when sitting.)
It’s a complex joint because the clavicle and scapula have different articulations at the AC joint than other joints in the body. This means it has more ligaments and muscles surrounding it than any other joint. There are actually three bones that make up the acromioclavicular joint — the clavicle, coracoid process of the scapula, and the glenohumeral joint between the humerus and the head of the humeri. Together they form a hinge joint with a range of motion from 70 degrees to 160 degrees.
The AC joint is one of several types of joints that allow our bodies to function properly. Other examples include the hip, knee, and ankle joints. However, unlike those joints, the AC joint does not have a capsule to protect its contents from injury. Since it doesn’t have this protective covering, there is less friction caused by cartilage. As a result, the risk of developing arthritis at the AC joint is higher than at most other joints.
There are many ways to injure the acromioclavicular joint. For example, you can be struck by another person’s swinging or kicking foot; get hit by a car or motorcycle; fall on your shoulder; or experience trauma while playing sports like football, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, handball, basketball, weight lifting, etc. Injuries to the acromioclavicular joint can occur anywhere along the length of the connecting tissues (ligaments and tendons). They may involve tearing, twisting, spraining, dislocation, fracture, compression, hematoma formation, ruptured blood vessels, nerve damage, tendon rupture, muscle strain, bursitis, infection and so forth.
If you’ve ever experienced pain or discomfort at the acromioclavicular joint, you know how difficult it can be to pinpoint exactly where the problem began. Fortunately, if you’re experiencing symptoms such as swelling, tenderness, bruising, popping, clicking, instability, weakness, numbness, tingling, burning, stiffness, redness, drainage, warmth, sharp pains, shooting pains, tightness, loss of ability to turn your head or rotate your neck, or inability to raise your arm over your head, you should consult a medical professional immediately.
Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to relieve the symptoms associated with an injured acromioclavicular joint. Treatment will depend upon the severity of the condition and whether surgery is required. If you think you need immediate medical attention after sustaining an injury, call 911. Otherwise, first try icing the area and elevating the affected limb(s). Apply ice packs wrapped in a thin towel soaked in cool water to reduce inflammation and swelling. Elevate the injured area above the heart level. You’ll want to avoid putting heat on the area because that could increase inflammation. Rest the arm(s) completely whenever possible. Wear a sling if needed. Do not use crutches or walkers.
In the meantime, here is what you can do to help yourself feel better until you see your doctor:
Wear supportive undergarments made of breathable fabric.
Take acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen sodium (Aleve), or aspirin every four hours as directed by your doctor, but only take NSAIDs 30 minutes before physical activity. Never drink alcohol while taking them.
Use a foam roller or massage stick to apply gentle pressure to the painful area.
Do light stretching exercises.
Keep hydrated by drinking lots of fluids.
You may want to consider wearing a support strap or tape around the middle of your chest underneath your shirt. It can provide extra support to keep the injured area off the ground.
See your doctor within 48 hours if you experience severe pain or swelling, fever, chills, extreme tenderness, drainage, or inability to elevate the injured area.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), ”