What Is Shoulder Pain Due to Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis?
The acromioclavicular joint is a joint at the top of the shoulder. It is the junction between the acromion and the clavicle.
Degeneration of the AC joint is termed osteoarthritis which means that the gliding surface of the joint has been worn out (articular cartilage). The resulting wear and tear on the joint is painful and can cause difficulty using the shoulder for everyday activities and heavy lifting.
What Are The Symptoms for Shoulder Pain due to Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis?
The common symptoms of Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis:
- Usually pain and tenderness in the front of the shoulder around the joint
- Pain is often worse when the arm is brought across the chest, since this motion compress the joint
- If the joint has been separated or traumatized in the past, there may be a bigger bump or prominence over the joint on the affected shoulder when compared to the unaffected shoulder.
- The joint may also click or pop as it moves.
What Are The Causes for Shoulder pain due to Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis?
No one knows for sure what causes osteoarthritis of the AC joint but some risk factors include:
- Previous shoulder injury or surgery ie. AC joint separation.
- Family history of osteoarthritis.
- Damage to the shoulder from another type of arthritis.
- Increasing age.
- Do a lot of weight lifting
How Is It Diagnosed Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis?
- Patients with shoulder pain due to acromioclavicular osteoarthritis can usually localize it accurately with one finger on the spot.
- X rays may show evidence of osteoarthritis. X-rays can show narrowing of the joint and bone spurs around the joint, which are signs of degeneration.
- MRI will confirm the AC joint osteoarthritis and can diagnose other concomitant conditions of the shoulder such as impingement syndrome and rotator cuff tears.
Shoulder Arthritis Treatment – Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis
Non-Surgical Treatment for Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis:
- Rest and anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles across the joint and can sometimes improve symptoms of AC joint osteoarthritis
- Intra-articular injection with local anaesthetic or steroids.
Surgical Treatment for Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis:
- If nonsurgical treatment is uneffective for 3-6 months, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is performed arthroscopically. A camera is inserted into the shoulder joint, and the end of the clavicle joint is resected (about 5mm of the very end of the bone is removed). As your body heals, the joint is replaced by scar tissue. In contrast to the arthritic joint, the new AC joint has no contact between the bones and therefore is not painful.