The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is the point where the clavicle and the scapula (part of the shoulder blade) meet. There is not much movement in this joint, but it can be a source of pain should an injury cause separation or dislocation, or if arthritis sets in.

Sometimes non-surgical treatments such as rest, medication, physical therapy and cortisone shots fail to treat all symptoms. Fortunately for some cases, surgery to repair the damage may be an option. What should you expect when the doctor recommends surgery?

Surgery and Recovery

The procedure chosen depends on the amount of damage to the acromioclavicular joint. Arthroscopic acromioclavicular surgery can be used in less severe cases and has a shorter recovery time. Arthroscopic surgery uses tiny tools, so smaller cuts are made into the joint, leaving less damage to the outer tissues.

Most patients can return home the day of the surgery. A sling for the affected arm is used to immobilize the acromioclavicular joint for two to three weeks. Physical therapy begins as soon as possible to restore range of motion and flexibility. After surgery, recovery time is dependent on rest and dedication to physical therapy. Total time for recovery may take up to six months.

What is Needed for the Surgery?

In preparation for acromioclavicular surgery, all patients must give a list of all medical conditions and a list of all medications and supplements. Some medications may need to be stopped for a short period of time before surgery.

The surgeon will discuss types of anesthesia to be used. The surgeon will also go over the specific procedures to be used in the surgery. These may vary depending on the damage to the acromioclavicular joint that needs repair.

Recovery Needs

Patients will need a ride home from the hospital. The patient will also require assistance around the house for at least two to three weeks while mobility is limited.

Physical therapy will soon begin. It is vital that physical therapy be taken seriously and all exercises at home be done as able. This is very important for the best success of the surgery. Call for an appointment with Dr. Steven Struhl. Do not continue to live in pain.