AC Joint Sprain

Your AC joint (acromioclavicular joint) sits at the top of your shoulder between your scapula and clavicle. It is an essential joint in allowing your body to perform shoulder movements and transmit force!


Your shoulder has a joint which forms at the connection of three bones. These bones are the humerus, scapula and clavicle. Your humerus has a round head that sits in the socket of the joint formed by the scapula.

Finally, the end of the scapula is known as the acromion and the joint between this part of the clavicle and scapular is called the acromioclavicular joint or AC joint.

If your AC joint is overstretched it is known as a shoulder separation. This injury is commonly referred to as an AC joint sprain or AC joint separation.


The cause of your AC joint injury is usually due to a direct force injury such as when you collide with an object or surface. This can be seen regularly in a football tackle or a fall off of a bicycle.

If your arm is outstretched during a fall there is a chance that your AC joint may be injured indirectly. This is due to the force created by the contact which is transferred up the arm and initiates a separation of the clavicle and acromion.


Common symptoms of an ac joint sprain include:

– lack of shoulder movement

– Bruising or swelling or the shoulder

– The feeling of pain in the top of the shoulder caused by overhead lifts and across body motions

– There may be a hard visible lump that can be noticed on the top of the shoulder

Usually, an X-Ray is a next step to ensure there are no bone fractures as clavicle fractures are common. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please book a session with your trained myotherapist today!


Your myotherapist will begin to treat your AC joint injury by aiming to reduce the pain and inflammation and by preventing your ligaments from over-stretching. This will allow your body to start to feel better in less than a week from the damage occurring.

Generally speaking, full ligament recovery will take at least six weeks of rehabilitation. Your myotherapist’ treatment will focus on a few key aspects of the recovery:

– Normalising your range of motion

– Fixing your technical skills and function

– Lowering your chance of re-injury

– Improving your upper limb proprioception

– normalising your muscle lengths

– Improving your shoulder alignment


There are some severe cases where patients may need to have surgery on their AC joint to either pin or repair the damaged ligaments. You will always receive the best results post-surgery by working closely with your myotherapist to provide their experience and guidance to your shoulder rehabilitation.

This means restoring your strength, power and endurance as well as improving your functionality for your sport of choice. 

Return To Sport:

Before you return to sport from your AC Joint injury it is crucial to undergo a gradual transition carefully monitored by your myotherapist.

This training will focus on ensuring your joints and muscles are sufficiently strengthened, lengthened and has appropriate proprioception! This is the best way to ensure a return to sport injury free!

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms outlined in this blog, please book a session with your trained myotherapist today!


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