FAQ048: What is the AC joint?

The AC Joint Stands for your Acromioclavicular Joint

The AC joint is a joint in your shoulder. It is a connection point for the shoulder blade and your collar bone.

Acromio = acromion. This is a piece of bone that is on the top of the shoulder blade coming over the shoulder blade.

Clavicular = clavicle aka the collar bone.

The Shoulder is a System

As we’ve talked about before (if you haven’t seen the article check out the shoulder blade article here), the shoulder isn’t just one muscle. It is a system that include the rotator cuff, primary muscles, the shoulder blade, arm bone, the collar bone and the rib cage (even the sternum). All of these things work together to help your shoulder move freely and pain free. The AC joint, is a component of that system.

What type of injuries happen to the AC joint?

There are a couple of things that can happen to the AC joint. There can be an irritation or inflammation in the joint that can cause point sensitive pain right over the joint itself.

Another common injury is an AC joint separation. This is usually the result of a direct blow to the shoulder. Although this joint is relatively stable in general, trauma from a direct hit can tear the ligaments and separate the joint. Therefore, injuries to this part of the shoulder are usually a result of a fall or hit during sports etc. The degree of the AC separation will determine how it is managed. Some people with a severe separation require surgery.

In this video, we go over the basics. What is the AC joint? In subsequent videos, we will dive into more about the shoulder mechanics and how injuries to this joint are managed so stay tuned.

Physiotherapy is one way to help treat an AC joint strain or separation that doesn’t require surgery (or to get movement back after you’ve had surgery). Ask Nick about it… this is something that happened to him when he was playing football!


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Christina Prevett

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