Patient Education

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What are the signs and symptoms of an AC joint separation?
Grade I Injury:
  • There may be tenderness at the joint when touched.
  • There may be some bruising around joint.
  • There is minor pain with arm movement.
  • There is no pain in the area of the coracoclavicular ligaments.
Grade II Injury:
  • There is moderate to severe pain at the joint.
  • Swelling may be present.
  • There is pain with arm movement.
  • There may be a small bump on the top of the shoulder where the clavicle ends.
  • The clavicle may move when pushed.
  • The area of the coracoclavicular ligaments may be painful when touched.
Grade III Injury:
  • Typically, the injured person immediately supports the elbow while holding the arm close to the side. This prevents the pain outward arm movement would cause.
  • Pain is present with any arm motion.
  • Pain is present around the joint and in the area of the coracoclavicular ligaments.
  • Swelling is present.
  • As the joint moves, a popping sound may occur.
  • There is shoulder deformity and a bump on the top of the shoulder.
  • The AC joint is very unstable.


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