AC Joint Arthritis
AC Joint arthritis
The acromio-clavicular joint (ACJ) is where the outer end of the clavicle (collarbone) meets the shoulder bone (acromion) and forms the point on top of the shoulder. Cartilage normally covers the ends of these bones and forms a smooth gliding surface. Arthritis occurs when these smooth cushioned layers become thinned and roughened.
Occupations or activities that involve prolonged or repetitive overhead lifting or shoulder impacts are associated with an increased risk of ACJ arthritis. These include construction workers, contact sports athletes or weightlifters. Cartilage damage may occur because of a previous injury such as ACJ dislocation.
What are the Symptoms?
Here are treatments for AC joint pains:
For the early stages of osteoarthritis of the AC joint, the most common treatment is nonsurgical. This includes oral analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s ), to reduce or alleviate pain. This is combined with rest, modification of activities and sometimes physiotherapy.
Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to treat osteoarthritis symptoms. Steroid medication has typically been used with good results. Although the effects of injections are temporary, they can provide significant pain relief until symptoms progress enough to need additional treatment.
In the majority of people AC joint arthritis, the symptoms can be successfully controlled by the above interventions. If these fail to provide sufficient improvement, then surgery in the form of AC joint excision may be considered. This procedure involves removing a small amount (less than 1cm) of the end of the clavicle (collarbone). This takes away the painful rubbing of the bone ends with the empty space being replaced over time with scar tissue. This is very effective in alleviating the symptoms of pain and provides excellent shoulder function. This procedure can be undertaken either through a small incision (open) or via keyhole techniques (arthroscopic).