What is AC Arthritis?
Arthritis is any condition that irritates or damages a joint. In a healthy joint, cartilage forms a protective layer between bones, allowing for smooth, painless articulation. Osteoarthritis implies that this cartilage has worn out, causing damage to the bones within the joint. The AC (acromioclavicular) joint is located at the tip of the shoulder where the clavicle and acromion meet. AC arthritis is most commonly caused by traumatic injury to the joint and usual “wear and tear”, though it may also be caused by weight lifting, rheumatic disorders, multiple infections, and gout.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom of AC arthritis is pain at the top of the shoulder with overhead activities and with reaching across the chest.
Conservative options include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications or a steroid injection to temporarily reduce pain and swelling.
If conservative treatment is not effective, the most common surgical repair is called a “Mumford”. With the Mumford procedure, a small piece of bone from the end of the clavicle is removed, permitting space between the acromion and the end of the clavicle. This area will eventually fill with scar tissue.
After surgery, the arm will be placed in a sling for approximately 10-14 days. Progressive motion and strengthening will be prescribed with the assistance of a physical therapist.