The AC (acromioclavicular) joint is the joint between the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (the tip of the shoulder blade). The AC joint provides a link between the arm and trunk and it transmits the load from the arm to the trunk when pulling, pushing, punching or resting on the arm.
What is acromioclavicular (ACJ) pain?
ACJ pain is any painful sensation around the ACJ area.
What causes acromioclavicular (ACJ) pain?
There are two main causes of ACJ pain:
- AC joint disruption- trauma leads to different degrees of displacement of the clavicle from the muscles and ligaments surrounding it. There are 6 classifications of AC joint disruption from type I being sprained with no tear to Type VI where the clavicle is completely separate from the scapula with gross upward displacement of the clavicle behind tendons.
- Osteoarthritis (OA) and osteolysis of the AC joint: OA may occur after injury or due to repetitive overuse. Clavicular osteolysis can occur spontaneously in rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.
What are the symptoms of acromioclavicular (ACJ) pain?
There are different symptoms of ACJ pain depending on the severity of the cause of the pain and severity of the condition:
AC joint disruption:
- Tenderness around the AC joint and a step if there is a clavicular separation.
- Pain around the top of the shoulder which may increase when lying on the affected side, moving the arm across the body, overhead activity or pushing/pulling movements.
- Aching or pain lifting arm over head
- Upper arm may feel weak
- Sleeping may be painful
How is acromioclavicular (ACJ) pain diagnosed?
Your physiotherapist can carry out a full shoulder examination to determine the cause of your acromioclavicular pain and is usually sufficient for diagnosing a joint spreain however further scans such as X-ray, MRI or CT scans may be required to confirm diagnosis and determine the extent of the damage or if any other structures are involved and rule out a fracture.
What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for acromioclavicular (ACJ) pain?
A specialist physiotherapist can assess your ACJ and surrounding structures to determine what the cause of the pain is and will provide an individual treatment plan. Treatment often includes:
- Ice therapy to decrease swelling
- Taping to allow normal shoulder alignment
- Gradual passive range of movement exercises to prevent stiffness
- Active range of movement exercises to improve joint flexibility and range of movement
- Strengthening exercises to keep the joint strong
- Joint mobilisation
- Sport specific exercises and a graded return to sports to ensure safety
- Soft tissue massage
Benefit of physiotherapy for acromioclavicular (ACJ) pain?
Physiotherapy should be started as early as possible to ensure the best outcome. The benefits you feel from physiotherapy will be dependent on your symptoms and goals.
Treatment helps with:
- Reduced pain
- Improved range of movement
- Increased strength
- Prevention of re-injuring the ACJ
Don't let pain win...
Our Expert Physiotherapists specialise in providing the latest in physiotherapy treatments and techniques in order to get you pain free as soon as possible, cure the cause of your pain and help you to return to pre-injury levels of activity.
Furthermore, we'll also give you a bespoke exercise and rehabilitation program, and advise you on how to prevent re-injury and remain pain free.
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I recently injured my Achilles Tendon and I was able to get immediate treatment from a very enthusiastic physiotherapist at ‘Farrell Physiotherapy’. I then had further regular treatment from Ben and continued with the follow-up exercises he gave me to do at home. I found Ben’s enthusiasm contagious and with the treatment and advice he gave me I have been able to get back to regular activity. I have been able to play 18 holes of competitive golf 4 days consecutively with there being no issues.
I was referred to Ben after a road traffic accident for pain in my neck. The service I received was excellent. He not only treated my neck pain but also helped me to correct my bad posture which was not aiding my recovery.
Ben is extremely friendly and gives a very professional service and I can’t thank him enough for resolving the problem. I would highly recommend him.
- Carol Joyce
I am an animal physiotherapist myself and can not recommend Ben more highly. He is the human physio I have been searching so long for!! There are very safe COVID procedures, and a great friendly and efficient environment. Ben makes you feel welcome, explains things perfectly and always ensures you're comfortable.
Most importantly Ben has enormously helped me with my knees. After having radiographs, an MRI, seeing a NHS and another private physio - none of them could help in that way that Ben did in 6 sessions and continues to do so. I have a long way to go but I have never had any faith that my goals are achievable but with Ben I now do - thank you!!
- Lauren Hunt
I have recently completed a course of treatment with Ben Farrell and am pleased to highly recommend him to others. I went to see Ben when I was suffering with extreme pain due to a trapped nerve in my neck which caused pain to radiate into my shoulder, arm and hand. I got an appointment very quickly and Ben was able to diagnose the problem and work on alleviating the pain. Part of the treatment has involved improving my longstanding poor posture which I’ve had since a child and believed was something that could not be changed. Ben has also advised me on how to continue to work on this to avoid this problem from reoccurring in the future.
- Judith Woosnam
I visited the practice on personal recommendation following a doctor’s diagnosis of an as then unspecified “shoulder injury”. I had seen my GP as the increasing pain in my arm and shoulder was not only preventing me from lifting my arm above 90%, but was also increasingly stopping me from sleeping at night.
After an initial diagnosis session where Ben Farrell had quickly identified the actual problem, I then undertook a course of hands on physiotherapy and an increasing program of exercise. In view of the complexity of the problem (which I was advised had been going on for far longer than I has know), the physiotherapy program was, therefore, pretty comprehensive, however, always with excellent support and guidance from Ben along the way.
I am very pleased with the results and I am now both playing much better golf and getting a full night’s sleep. And, I have no problems lifting my arm its full range!!!! So, the next thing on the agenda will be the golf game at Benton Hall.
Before visiting Ben I had been suffering from pain in my achillies tendons, which had stopped me from running my first half marathon. I had previously visited other physios local to me but had made no improvement. On my first visit ,Ben immediately diagnosed that my problem was coming from an old lower back injury. I was impressed that he was determined to treat the root cause of the injury (back) and provide a long term cure, and not just focus on a short term treatment of my achilles. Ben’s friendly but straight talking manner made my visits very enjoyable. I was so impressed that I took my 14 year old son to see Ben when he had an injury prior to a very important football trial. I would not hesitate to highly recommend Ben to anyone .
- Mike Smith
Couldn’t have asked for a better service than I got in just 4 weeks I spent with Mr Farrell.
My first appointment with Mr Farrell was 4 weeks prior to running the London marathon and I was in no fit state to be able to run it due to a knee injury. Mr Farrell gave me a number of exercises to completely daily and a handful of one on one sessions as well. He also advised me on picking a better pair of running shoes to support my foot shape and create less pain in my knee.
A combination of the hard work put in by Mr Farrell and myself I managed to complete the marathon in just over 4 hours. A great achieve considering I couldn’t run for 4 months prior to the race due to my knee. My only regret was not going to see Mr Farrell earlier! Then I may have be able to probably train for it. Would highly recommend Mr Farrell to anyone, a very professional service and great results.
- Fraser Murray
One of the main things I learnt when you treated me was your ability to dispel some of the old chestnuts about joint pain. Through your physiotherapy and advice I now walk more and cycle a lot. I do not rest up when I have a flair up, I do the maximum exercise I can without causing to great a discomfort to my joints. I avoid Painkillers if at all possible.
I can honestly say that you have helped me to take a new outlook on life. Thank you.
Ben Farrell was very thorough and professional when I went to him for treatment on my tennis elbow. He treated my posture as well as the elbow. The exercises he taught me both enabled the pain to go away and stay away, thus doing himself out of work! He and all his staff were very pleasant and friendly and I would recommend him unreservedly.
- Shane Murphy
Ben is an excellent physiotherapist who provided a considered care plan that enabled me to achieve my goals. Ben in his unique professional and personable manner demonstrated judgement and considerable experience to assist my recovery
After suffering persistent shoulder pain for several months I went to Farrell Physiotherapy on the recommendation of my husband.
After only a short course of treatment and undertaking daily exercises I am now pain free.
I would gladly recommend Farrell Physiotherapy to any person requiring physiotherapy treatment.
- C Wiltshire
I received excellent treatment for a foot and knee complaint that I thought would need an operation. It was very debilitating. However, after my course of physiotherapy sessions and continuation of exercises to do at home, I am now pain free and back to my normal exercise routine at the gym.
- C Dobinson
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