Initial treatment of AC separations consists of medication and ice to relieve the pain and swelling associated with the initial injury. A sling is often used for seven to 10 days to provide comfort while the AC joint begins to heal. X-rays are usually obtained to determine the amount of displacement of the clavicle, and an MRI is occasionally ordered as well to make sure there is no injury to other parts of the shoulder.
Surgery is not usually necessary for AC separations, but is recommended in cases with complete disruption of the AC joint, or occasionally in patients with a partial tear of the ligaments and persistent pain despite appropriate treatment for two to six months after the injury. Surgery consists of reconstructing the ligaments that hold the clavicle to the scapula. Patients can usually return to sports four to six months following surgery.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
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