AC Joint Repair Overview
The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is located at the connection point of the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (roof of the shoulder). The AC joint is quite strong since it is stabilized by strong ligaments, known as coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments, which attach the clavicle to the front of the scapula (shoulder blade). Even though it is strong, the AC joint and the surrounding soft tissue structures can become injured from direct impact to the top of the shoulder joint during injury such as a fall or motor vehicle accident. The traumatic event can cause the clavicle and scapula to displace from each other, referred to as an AC separation. More severe cases of an AC separation may require an arthroscopic AC joint repair. This minimally invasive procedure is commonly performed by Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic shoulder surgeon serving the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California communities.
How are AC Joint Separations Classified?
Injuries to the AC joint are measured based on grades, with increasing numbers reflecting more severe injury. A grade 1 or 2 AC joint injury will cause pain and is commonly caused by mild sprain or stretch of the ligaments without significant displacement. Grades 4-6 AC joint injuries represent significant displacement due torn ligaments and capsule requiring surgical repair to return full function to the joint. Grade 3 AC joint injuries are more controversial. Dr. Yau will determine Grade 3 injuries on a case-by-case basis to determine the optimal treatment option.