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Shoulder Separation (cont.)

What Is the Treatment for a Shoulder Separation?

Patient Comments
  • Ice is an important treatment for most acute soft-tissue injuries.
  • Frequently, a sling is needed and helpful for the first few days after an injury. This helps to support the weight of the arm and to restrict motion. A doctor may advise some motion exercises such as stretching and light weight-bearing within a few days once the immediate pain has stopped.
  • Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may be advised, either over the counter or by prescription.
  • Physical therapy may be required, particularly once the immediate pain has stopped within a few days. The decision to prescribe rehabilitation therapy often is made during a follow-up visit.
  • Complete ligament rupture at the AC joint may require surgical repair. The surgery can be done with an open incision or arthroscopically (with a small camera and small incisions).
    • The Weaver Dunn procedure is a surgical intervention used to repair a severely damaged AC joint separation.

Follow-up for a Shoulder Separation

A doctor may recommend follow-up care. Possibly, no follow-up care may be needed. From that visit, determinations regarding referrals for physical therapy or further orthopedic consultation may be made.

What Is the Prognosis for a Shoulder Separation?

The prognosis for simple separations is generally good if there is just a strain and the ligaments are not greatly damaged. Recovery time depends on the extent of the injury. More serious ligament damage, especially in athletes and people who depend on their arms for work, may require surgery and physical therapy to return to baseline functioning.

Some people will have complications, including frustrating pain, arthritis, frozen shoulder, and decrease in mobility despite therapy, though the vast majority of people will recover to full function within a few weeks.

Last Reviewed 11/21/2017

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Shoulder Separation - Experience

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Shoulder Separation - Treatment

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Acromioclavicular Joint Separations »

The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is a diarthrodial articulation with an interposed fibrocartilaginous meniscal disk that links the hyaline cartilage articular surfaces of the acromial process and the clavicle.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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