The acromioclavicular joint is between the collarbone (clavicle) and the acromion, the highest part of the shoulder blade (scapula).

Related conditions include acromioclavicular joint arthritis, rotator cuff injury, rotator cuff arthritis, clavicle fracture, shoulder blade injury or shoulder dislocation.

What is an Acromioclavicular Joint (ACJ) Injury?

The acromion is felt on the top of the shoulder. It allows a small degree of movement but it is kept relatively immobilised by several ligaments which prevent movement upwards as well as backwards. Following trauma either by landing onto the shoulder or from direct impact, for example following a cycling accident or in a contact sport, these ligaments can be ruptured. This causes the clavicle to become displaced in relation to the acromion. This is a dislocation. The joint itself can also be injured without a complete dislocation leading to pain without significant deformity.

What are the symptoms of an Acromioclavicular (ACJ) Joint Injury?

The main symptom for an acromioclavicular joint injury is pain, and in some cases significant deformity with increased mobility and prominence of the clavicle on the upper aspect of the shoulder. Patients can also describe the feeling of the shoulder “dropping” in more severe cases. Patients struggle to sleep at night and lie on the affected shoulder. In more chronic cases, patients can struggle to get back to over-head activities, including racquet sports and contact sports.

How is an Acromioclavicular Joint (ACJ) Injury diagnosed?

Acromioclavicular joint injuries are diagnosed by taking a careful history and performing a detailed examination. Careful consideration is taken to assess the degree of stability with crossing the arm over the front of the chest. Xray can be used to grade the degree of injury, however, this can under or over-report the injury and therefore clinical assessment is essential. X-ray and CT/MRI can also be used to exclude associated injuries such as clavicle fracture, shoulder blade injury or shoulder dislocation.

How is an Acromioclavicular Joint (ACJ) Injury treated?

Grosvenor Orthopaedic Partners are experts in the treatment of Acromioclavicular Joint (ACJ) Injuries. We regularly see patients each week for diagnosis and treatment, both conservative and surgical. Typical treatment begins with symptomatic management using pain killers and a sling. The degree of joint instability along with medical imaging will then be reviewed and discussed by our consultant team along with the patient. The functional demands of the patient, including their chosen sports and occupation will help to guide treatment options. 

Lower-grade injuries can be treated with pain relief and physiotherapy working on a range of movement and gradual return to activities. This can all be managed from our various clinics or treatment hospitals across London (see locations for further information). 

Operative treatment will be guided by the severity of the injury, patient preferences and symptoms. Open or keyhole (arthroscopic) procedures, typically day-cases, are used to realign the joint and reconstruct the coracoclavicular ligaments, providing improved stability. These operations can lead to an earlier return to sports and normal daily activities and in most cases lead to a predictable outcome.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or is experiencing pain in their shoulder or difficulty with moving the shoulder, arm or elbow and would like a consultant-led review, please contact us. Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of ACJ injuries with excellent patient outcomes.

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Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of should & elbow -related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.

SHOULDER & ELBOW CONDITIONS

If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow conditions click the button below to find out more

SHOULDER & ELBOW TREATMENTS

If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow treatments click the button below to find out more

our specialist shoulder and elbow consultants

Shoulder and Elbow care at Grosvenor Orthopaedics is led by our consultant surgeons Mr W James White and Mr David Butt, both graduates of London medical colleges. They bring extensive experience to Grosvenor Orthopaedics having worked across Guys NHS Trust and the world renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Our team have broad experience in the successful treatment of a range of shoulder and elbow problems, addressing both young and sports related injuries as well as those relating to trauma, disease process and genetics.

Patients who choose Grosvenor Orthopaedic Partners for their treatment will receive some of the best care available in the UK. Our team are leading consultants across London’s shoulder and elbow clinics and offer specialist care to our private patients through King Edward’s Hospital, HCA Lister and other major private hospitals in central London.

Our team are well placed to manage and treat a diverse range of shoulder and elbow problems utilising cutting edge diagnostic technology and treatment approaches, both surgical and conservative. Below is an overview of some of the conditions we treat but for a more thorough understanding please contact our team here

MR W JAMES WHITE

Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MBBS, BSc(Hons)
James is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, King Edward VII’s, The Lister Hospital Chelsea and HCA Chiswick Outpatient Clinic. His practice encompasses all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery including arthroscopy, arthroplasty and trauma. He has a reputation as a thorough clinician, effective communicator and skilled surgeon. Through joint decision-making with the patient and utilising non-operative techniques where possible, he achieves the best possible outcomes for patients. When surgery is required, James has excellent outcomes based on his precise and prepared approach to operating.

MR DAVID BUTT

Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MSc, MBBS, BSc(Hons)
David is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at the world-renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore, King Edward VII’s Hospital and One Hatfield. His practice involves all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery, from minor injuries to complex reconstructive procedures. He strongly believes in shared decision making and a patient-centred approach to treatment. He is a meticulous surgeon using up to date and evidence-based techniques to treat every patient’s individual needs.

What some of our patients say

Mrs MA

Thank you for taking care of me. You went above and beyond and I am so touched and grateful. My knee feels fine now