Separated shoulder is also known as acromioclavicular separation. This is considered a common injury and it features with stretch or tear of one or more ligaments that are attached to point where the end of collarbone and shoulder blade meet. Fortunately, this type of injury does not necessary require surgery and is treated with rest, ice packs and pain relieving medications. Full shoulder function is generally restored within a few weeks after the injury.
Causes of Separated Shoulder
This type of injury most commonly occurs due to direct blow to the shoulder or if a person has fallen down right onto the shoulder. The result of the previous two is stretching or tearing of one or even more ligaments that are in charge of shoulder stability. Once the ligaments are torn the bones of the shoulder joint separate. This typically features with formation of a bump at the shoulder top.
Separated shoulder is a common injury in athletes particularly those who practice hockey, football, volleyball and gymnastics.
Symptoms of Separated Shoulder
There are many symptoms and signs of separated shoulder. The first one is definitely pain in the shoulder area. The pain occurs instantly after the injury. The injured area is also tender to touch. Since the ligaments are stretched or torn the affected arm is weak and the shoulder movements are restricted. And finally, as a result of the injury a bump can be palpated at the top of the shoulder.
Treatment for Separated Shoulder
A well experienced therapist can diagnose the injury after physical examination of a patient. It is necessary to perform X-ray of the injured area. This way fractures and more severe injury to the joint can be either confirmed or ruled out.
The treatment for separated shoulder is actually the same as the treatment of many other similar injuries. It includes rest, application of ice packs or cold compresses, pain killers and specific separated shoulder rehab exercises. Conservative treatment is highly effective in majority of patients.
The recovery time basically depends on whether the ligaments have been only stretched or they have been torn. So the extent of the injury determines how much time the patient will need to fully recover. If the injury is severe the recovery time may last up to several months.
During the recovery one should not engage in any kind of physical activity which may cause further damage to the joint. Only prescribed exercises, minor stretching and movement of the shoulder are allowed. Once the shoulder has healed athletes may protect it from repeated injuries by wearing proper protective shoulder gear. Regular exercises are also essential since they strengthen the shoulder muscles and bones and make it less susceptible to repeated injuries.