top of page
  • Writer's pictureAdam Whatley

Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injury

Updated: Mar 23


AC joint pain is associated with pain and tenderness at the top of the shoulder and difficulty reaching the arm across the body, like putting on a seat belt, for example. The AC joint is located at the top of the shoulder where the collarbone joins with the shoulder blade. This joint deals with high compressive forces and can also be associated with arthritis.

AC joint pain treatment Dynamic osteopaths Solihull


  • Localised tenderness and pain at the top, front of the shoulder that comes and goes, possibly with a chronic low level of pain and intermittent flare-ups, which be be associated with repetition.

  • Pain with certain activities, such as reaching the arm across the body to make a backhanded tennis shot, reaching behind the back to zip a dress, or lifting an item from an overhead cabinet.


1) Joint trauma

2) Joint stress and chronic injury

3) Congenital defect or illness

4) Age related degenerative changes


AC joint arthritis is a progressively degenerative condition that cannot be reversed. However, a few steps may be taken to slow the degenerative process and control pain.

Activity modification can reduce pain and inflammation, this combined with osteopathic treatment and physical rehabilitation therapy. Treatment objectives:

  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications only provide short term relief.

  • Osteopathic Treatment and physical rehabilitation aims to keep your shoulder mobile and strong, with further aims to reduce pain and weakness.

  • If conservative treatment fails then you may be offered a cortisone steroid injection into the area to help reduce inflammation and control the pain. However, it should be noted that these in most cases only offer short term relief and I’m not a solution long-term. Furthermore, It is advisable to avoid repeated steroid injections in the presence of infra-articular damage.

  • Platelet rich plasma (PRP) Treatment - a natural non-surgical treatment aiming to restore function and reduce pain. Also, a popular form of regenerative medicine which is used to preserve and store cartilage health.

Exercises for AC joint injury It is important that the stabilising muscles are working to their best ability during the treatment of AC joint injury, and rehabilitation. The AC joint relies heavily on dynamic synergistic control of the shoulder girdle and if this is out, the shoulder biomechanics will be affected and the AC joint can then be susceptible to overload and damage. So, it is important to do some corrective stabilisation and strengthening exercises under the guidance of your osteopath, such as:

  • Rear scapular (shoulder blade) control

  • Rotator cuff strengthening

  • Postural control

  • Shoulder mobility exercises


bottom of page