AC (Acromioclavicular) Arthritis is the thinning and wearing away of a specific joint in the shoulder where the top of the shoulder blade and end of the clavicle or collarbone meet.
AC arthritis is fairly common as the shoulder endures repeated use over the years, which can wear away the cartilage surface found at the AC joint. Injuries, such as a shoulder separation can also contribute to the development of AC arthritis.
The primary symptom associated with AC arthritis is pain with movement focused primarily at the front/top of the shoulder.
Treatment Options for AC Arthritis
- Anti-inflammatory Medication – Dr. Hecht may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication for a period of time to calm/lessen the pain caused by the inflammation.
- Corticosteroid Injections Occasionally a cortisone injection is used to locally treat the inflammation. Dr. Hecht will discuss the risks and benefits of cortisone injections with you.
- Surgery If non-operative treatments fail to relieve the symptoms, surgery can be performed. For the AC joint, a small portion of the end of the collarbone can shaved away arthroscopically or through a small open incision. Many times this is done in conjunction with other shoulder procedures.
- Strengthening exercise and PT after surgery A successful outcome with surgery is dependent upon a dedicated and supervised rehabilitation program. Patients are referred to physical therapy where they work one-on-one with a licensed physical therapist 2-3 times/week to regain range of motion, strength, and the ability to perform desired activities. The overall length of physical therapy varies depending on the procedures performed.