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What we’ll cover
  1. What is the AC joint?
  2. How can you injure your AC joint?
  3. Physiotherapy for AC joint injury
  4. Surgery for AC joint injury

AC Joint Injury

Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injuries account for around 40% of all shoulder injuries that occur in contact sport. Our physiotherapist Laura Scott investigates physiotherapy treatment and what to do if you have an AC joint injury.

What is the AC joint?

The joint itself is one of four major joints which make up the shoulder. It is where the clavicle (collar bone) and the acromion (part of the shoulder blade) articulate. The joint is held together by two main ligaments; coracoclavicular ligament and the acromioclavicular ligament. Together these ligaments work to prevent dislocation of the joint.

How can you injure your AC joint?

You may commonly see AFL footballers suffer such an injury after falling onto an outstretched hand or elbow. The joint can also be affected by a direct blow to the joint or similarly falling onto the AC joint. The joint functions to absorb the force coming from the upper limb, thus if we fall onto our elbow or outstretched hand, the AC joint is responsible for absorbing this force. Disruption of the ligaments will occur when the force translated is greater than the capacity of ligaments.

Along with AFL players, this injury is often seen in hockey and rugby players, cyclists as well as skiers/snowboarders.

Injury to the AC joint can range from minor to severe based upon the level of impact and instability present thereafter. Diagnosis will be based upon a combination of factors including; subjective history i.e. trauma, objective testing i.e. special tests and palpation and if required imaging results such as an x-ray or MRI.

If injury to the AC joint is suspected, your physiotherapist will perform a series of test to determine the level of severity.

Type 1: presence of swelling, with pain on abduction only (moving arm out to he side)

Type 2: presence of swelling, pain in all directions of movement

Type 3: visible step deformity showing complete disruption of ligament fibres

Physiotherapy for AC joint injury

Conservative management is often the recommendation for type 1 and 2 AC joint injuries. In the initial stages treatment will focus on the acute management of symptoms i.e. Pain, preserving/regaining range of motion, and maintaining muscle length. In these stages your physiotherapist may also look to tape the shoulder to assist with stability and avoidance of aggravating positions.

Once full range of motion is regained, treatment will focus on both stability and strength around the shoulder prior to then sport specific exercises and rehab.

Surgery for AC joint injury

Surgery may be indicated for the more severe cases or where conservative management has failed. Surgical management may involve a joint fixation or ligament reconstruction to insure the stability of the joint. In more severe cases, the risk of early degeneration of the joint increases.

If you suspect you have injured your acromioclavicular joint, book in to see one of our physiotherapists for a thorough assessment.


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Last week we were fortunate enough to head back to uni and refresh our anatomy knowledge at @latrobeuni in the anatomy labs. 

Thank you to the Latrobe School of Physiotherapy for inviting us! Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone.

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