Shoulder Separation

Shoulder separation is a condition that affects the collarbone and shoulder blade. This article will walk you through how shoulder separation develops and how it is typically treated. 

Overview of shoulder separation

One of the joints in the shoulder is composed of the intersection of the collarbone and the top of the shoulder blade. This is the acromioclavicular joint and forms the top of the shoulder. Ligaments attach to the collarbone and provide stability for the bones of the joint, allowing them to hold together.

A separated shoulder occurs when the ligaments that connect to the collarbone become sprained or torn due to a large force that damages the shoulder. In severe cases, the collarbone can start to separate from the shoulder blade, disrupting the overall position of the joint.

Shoulder separation can vary in severity. Sometimes, the ligaments may only be slightly strained, while in more serious cases, the ligaments can be torn depending on the severity of the injury. Luckily, several treatments are available to manage pain and treat the separation.

Causes of shoulder separation

Often, shoulder separation occurs because of a bad fall or direct blow to the shoulder. With enough pressure, the ligaments supporting the acromioclavicular joint can be sprained or torn. If the injury is severe enough, the joint may become dislodged because of the lack of support from the neighboring ligaments, sometimes leading to a bulge in the shoulder.

If you fall and feel a sudden pain in your shoulder, monitor your condition to know if the joint has been injured.

Symptoms of shoulder separation

Shoulder separation often leads to the following symptoms:

  •       Pain in the shoulder (usually intense at the time of injury)
  •       Swelling
  •       Bruising
  •       Tenderness
  •       Limited range of motion in the shoulder
  •       Bulging shoulder, in some cases

Symptoms of a separated shoulder will vary based on the severity of the injury and the accident that caused it. Seek medical attention if you are experiencing persistent symptoms in your shoulder to prevent the injury from getting worse. 

Treatment for shoulder separation

In many cases, shoulder separation can be treated without surgery. Nonsurgical treatments for shoulder separation typically include

  •       Rest and avoiding activity that further strains the shoulder
  •       Ice to relieve inflammation
  •       Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  •       Physical therapy exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected shoulder

In severe cases where shoulder pain persists, surgery may be recommended to relieve pain and to repair the damaged joint. Procedures include repairing the torn ligament by reattaching it to the collarbone and removing part of the collarbone to avoid friction in the shoulder. 

Treating shoulder separation at OAR

Shoulder separation can be a frustrating condition when it causes pain or deformity. At OAR, our team of experienced orthopaedic specialists and surgeons are prepared to help you find the best treatment for your individual case.

Book an appointment with us today to see how we can help you get back to doing what you love!

Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.

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