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AC Joint Reconstruction

AC joint reconstruction is a surgical procedure focused on repairing the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, located where the clavicle (collarbone) meets the highest point of the scapula (shoulder blade). This joint is critical in enabling a wide range of shoulder movements.

An AC joint separation is dislocation of the AC joint. Shoulder dislocations are common causes of shoulder pain in young male athletes, account for 9% of all shoulder injuries. In high-grade injuries AC joint reconstruction may be indicated to improve function. Separation can occur from a direct impact to the shoulder, from a fall on an outstretched hand. Most AC joint injuries are sports related. AC joint dislocations injures the ligaments that connect the shoulder blade to the collarbone.

Injuries to the AC joint can from minor ligament strains to more serious partial ligament tears. In severe cases, the ligaments can be completely torn. When a shoulder separation occurs, the scapula shifts downwards due to the arm’s weight, resulting in a noticeable bump on the shoulder’s surface.

AC joint reconstruction surgery is a procedure designed to repair and stabilize the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. Reconstruction surgery is generally indicated for individuals who have suffered significant injuries to the AC joint, such as a severe dislocation or where the ligaments that support the joint are severely stretched or torn. The goal of AC joint reconstruction is to restore the normal anatomy and function of the shoulder.

Several surgical techniques exist for AC joint reconstruction, each with its benefits and limitations. The choice of technique depends on factors like the injury’s severity, whether treating an acute injury or chronic injury, patient’s age, activity level, and surgeon’s experience.
The choice of technique depends on whether the injury is acute, means it is less than 3 weeks old; or a chronic injury which is more than 3 weeks old.

The surgery may be performed arthroscopically or as an open procedure. Each involves reconstructing the damaged ligaments with tendon grafts or synthetic materials to stabilize the joint. In some cases, a small part of the clavicle may also be removed.

Following the operation, the goals are to treat postoperative shoulder pain and inflammation, and to protect the shoulder while it heals. Physical therapy to rehabilitate the shoulder continues for the next 4 months. Most people recovery within 4-6 months.

Schedule a shoulder consultation

At Silicon Valley Orthopedics we treat athletes and non-athletes alike with cutting-edge techniques and procedures as well as nonsurgical options that will help healing when time and patience are in order. Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn all your treatment options.

We have offices in Fremont, Los Gatos, and Menlo Park. At Silicon Valley Orthopedics we strive for compassionate, personalized care and treatment options geared to your needs.