What is Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs most often people as people age. AC joint osteoarthritis affects the tissue covering the ends of bones (cartilage) in the AC joint of the shoulder. The cartilage becomes damaged and worn out causing pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement in the AC joint.
The shoulder joint is made up of a ball and socket joint, where the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) articulates with the socket of the scapula (shoulder blade), which is called the glenoid. The acromioclavicular or AC joint is where the acromion or highest point of the shoulder blade, and the clavicle or collarbone join. The articulating surfaces of the bones are covered with cartilage, which prevents friction between the moving bones, enabling smooth movement. Tendons and ligaments around the shoulder joint provide strength and stability to the joint.
Aging is the most common cause of AC joint osteoarthritis. Other causes include:
- Sports injuries
- Excessive strain to the joint
- Inflammatory arthropathies (inflammation of joint)
- Septic arthritis (bacterial infection)
The symptoms vary with the severity of the damage caused to the cartilage and the physical activity of the patient.
Common symptoms may include:
- Localized pain over the anterior part or top of the shoulder
- Radiating pain towards the upper arm
- Catching sensation and pain while sleeping
- Swelling and tenderness around the joint
Diagnosis of AC joint osteoarthritis includes a review of your symptoms and medical history. A physical examination will be performed by your doctor to check the affected shoulder for pain, swelling, and inflammation. X-ray or MRI scanning may be ordered to view the joint more closely.
Several treatments and lifestyle modifications can help you ease your pain and symptoms. The objective of the treatment is to reduce pain, improve joint movement, and prevent further damage to the joint. The treatment of osteoarthritis involves:
Medications may include different classes such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, and other drugs.
Some of the lifestyle modifications include:
- A moderate exercise program
- Use of cold packs to reduce inflammation
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Getting adequate rest
- Losing weight
Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to keep your AC joint flexible and improve muscle strength.
Surgery is usually considered if non-surgical treatment fails to provide relief. The most common procedure performed is distal clavicle excision. In this procedure, a small section at the end of the clavicle bone where it meets the acromion is removed. This may be performed with an open incision or arthroscopically.
- Subacromial Impingement Syndrome
- Rotator Cuff Tear
- Shoulder Pain
- Anterior Shoulder Instability
- Shoulder Impingement
- SLAP Tears
- Arthritis of the Shoulder
- Shoulder Labral Tear
- Shoulder Dislocation
- Little League Shoulder
- Frozen Shoulder
- Shoulder Trauma
- Clavicle Fracture
- Proximal Humerus Fractures
- Sternoclavicular Joint (SC joint)
- Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Osteoarthritis
- Proximal Biceps Tendinitis
- Internal Impingement of the Shoulder
- AC Joint Separation
- Shoulder Tendonitis
- Partial Rotator Cuff Tear
- Bicep Tendon Rupture
- Shoulder Labral Tear with Instability
- Proximal Biceps Tendon Rupture
- Multidirectional Instability of the Shoulder
- Massive Retracted Rotator Cuff Tear
- Calcification Tendinitis
- Rotator Cuff Pain