If raising your arm overhead or bringing your arm across your body causes extreme pain and tenderness at the top of your shoulder, you may suffer from acromioclavicular (AC) joint osteoarthritis. AC joint osteoarthritis is a common cause of shoulder pain, especially in patients older than 50 with a history of shoulder trauma or who played sports like basketball or swimming, requiring a lot of shoulder motion. 

What is the Acromioclavicular joint?

A joint is where two bones meet. The AC joint is where the collarbone and the shoulder blade meet. It helps allow stability and motion to the shoulder. It is a commonly injured joint, especially in individuals who do manual work or play sports involving a lot of shoulder work. In addition to osteoarthritis, people with should pain in the AC joint may suffer from fractures or separations, so it’s always ideal to have it looked at by a medical professional to assess for potential treatment. 

Osteoarthritis of the Acromioclavicular Joint

Arthritis is a general term used to describe any joint pain. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease known as wear and tear arthritis. If someone has AC joint osteoarthritis, it means they have degenerative arthritis in the AC joint. 

AC joint osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage surrounding the joint begins to wear down. If left untreated, AC joint osteoarthritis may lead to bone marrow lesions, causing swelling and discomfort in the bones within the shoulder. In addition to pain, patients may experience swelling or a decreased range of motion. 

Treating AC Joint Osteoarthritis 

Treatment options for AC joint osteoarthritis will vary depending on your level of discomfort and the severity of the arthritis. The first line of treatment is often anti-inflammatory medications or cold packs to relieve some of the distress. Some doctors may also suggest a corticosteroid injection.

A patient may require surgical treatment, such as distal clavicle excision in more severe cases. Distal clavicle excision is a procedure that involves removing the outer part of the collarbone. When deciding if surgery is the right option, discussing with your doctor the potential risks, complications, and benefits is essential. 

How Mocek Spine Clinic can help

If you have acromioclavicular joint osteoarthritis or any other condition causing shoulder pain, the team at Mocek Spine Clinic is available to help. Our goal is to provide minimally invasive treatments to help eliminate chronic pain and for patients to recover quickly to return to their daily activities as soon as possible. 

To learn more, you can make an appointment at our clinic or call us at 501.224.4001.