Rehabilitation after shoulder separation (AC joint separation)

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2 important rehab considerations for AC joint injuries:

40%-50% of all shoulder injuries sustained during sports involve the AC joint, with the most common being a “separated shoulder”. A “separated shoulder” is actually a separation of the AC joint (acromioclavicular joint). The most common mechanism of injury is a downward force that tears/stretches the AC joint ligament. This is what gives the shoulder the appearance of being “separated”.

Most heal well with conservative PT and don’t need surgery.
2 key rehab points:
1. strengthening of the shoulder must emphasize deltoid and trapezius work. The muscle fibers of the deltoid and trapezius blend with the AC ligament to reinforce the AC joint and give it stability.
2. If the injury is acute (less than 1 month), then you must tape the AC joint to reduce pain, give it stability, and allow for greater exercise ability.

Let me know if you need help in taping your AC joint or if you have any additional questions, thanks

Ed Deboo, Physical Therapist,

Bellingham Physical Therapy

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