Acromioclavicular Joint Arthritis

Acromioclavicular (AC) joint arthritis is a condition that develops when the cartilage cushioning the AC joint in the shoulder begins to wear out. It occurs as a result of repeated movements of the arm and overhead activities. People who lift heavy weights overhead such as weightlifters and those involved in overhead sports such as basketball are at increased risk for developing osteoarthritis of the AC joint. Another common cause is a previous injury to the AC joint causing AC joint separation.

Osteoarthritis in the AC joint may cause pain and tenderness in front of the shoulder. Moving the affected arm across your chest may compress the AC joint and worsen the pain. Pain also radiates to the shoulder, front of the chest, and the neck. In patients who had previous shoulder injury, bumps appear around the AC joint. You can hear a snap or click when you move your affected shoulder.

Diagnosis of AC joint osteoarthritis will be made by collecting medical history and physical examination. During physical examination your doctor will look for tenderness over the AC joint and pain with compression of the AC joint. To confirm the diagnosis a local anaesthesia may be injected into the joint to temporarily reduce the pain. X-rays of the AC joint will be taken to reveal bone spurs around the joint and narrowing of the joint space.

Treatment for AC joint osteoarthritis includes both nonsurgical treatment and surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatment includes rest, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications,physical therapy, andinjections of corticosteroids. Surgery may be indicated if nonsurgical treatments are not effective. Resection arthroplasty is the surgery of choice for AC joint osteoarthritis. During this surgery your doctor removes about half-inch of the clavicle bone at the end where it meets the scapula. As the process of healing, scar tissue will fill the space created by removal of a piece of clavicle bone. The scar tissue allows normal movement of the AC joint and avoids rubbing of bone ends. The surgery may be performed using minimally invasive technique or using arthroscope.

Related Procedures: