Orthopedic Treatment For Shoulder Separation

by Administrator 24. April 2017 11:01

Shoulder Separation is a condition in which the clavicle (collarbone) and acromion (end of shoulder blade) are torn apart. Depending upon its severity, the condition can be classified into type I, type II and type III injury.  In type I the acromioclavicular (AC) ligament is partially torn, but the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament is intact.  In type II injury the AC ligament is completely torn. Type III injury occurs when both AC and CC ligaments are completely withered.

Risk Factors

  • Males are more likely to have Shoulder Separation
  • The injury is common in teenagers
  • Weak shoulder muscles
  • Shallow joints and loose ligaments


  • A car accident or a sudden fall
  • An injury while playing contact sports such as rugby, football, wrestling, hockey, etc.


  • Pain on the top of the shoulder
  • Limited movement of the affected arm
  • Swelling, cuts or bruises at the affected area
  • An upward pointing lump on the top of the shoulder due to separated collar bone
  • Tenderness at the junction of the displaced joint
  • Numbness or weakness in the affected arm due to nerve damage
  • Popping sensation


In order to diagnose the condition the doctor may ask the patient to hold weight and get an x-ray.  Holding weight allows the shoulder to move and the separation is clearly visible in the scan. To evaluate further damage to the tissues or ligaments, the doctor may ask for an MRI or CT scan as well.

Non-Surgical Treatment

  • Medication - The doctor may prescribe certain pain relieving medicines to alleviate affliction.
  • Rest – The patient may be asked to wear a sling and immobilize the arm for a while. This may allow the scar tissue to heal the injured ligaments and ensure speedy recovery.
  • Ice – In order to reduce inflammation from the affected area the doctor may ask the patient to apply ice after every 15-20 minutes. Icing increases the rate of blood flow to the affected area.
  • Rehabilitation Exercises - Stretching and strengthening exercises may be recommended to the patients to regain the lost functionality of the joint.

Surgical Treatment –

In severe cases a surgery may be recommended by the orthopedic surgeon. He may trim the end of the clavicle so that it does not rub against the acromion.  In some cases, the ligaments present underside of the clavicle may be stitched back together to ensure faster healing.

  • Open- Weaver- Dunn is another surgical procedure that can be recommended by the orthopedic surgeon.  In this method –
  • The surgeon may make a longitudinal incision over the AC joint to find the ruptured clavicle.
  • He may then obliquely excise the clavicle.
  • CC ligament may then be mobilized with a small amount of bone from acromion.
  • Holes may be drilled into the clavicle
  • Polydioxane (PDS) cord may be passed through the holes to put back dislocated clavicle and acromion.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kulwicki, the shoulder and elbow injury specialist in Flower Mound, TX, call at (972) 899 – 4679.

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