How to Diagnose an AC Joint Injury
During the initial visit Dr. Boykin will examine the shoulder in order to determine whether the injury is isolated to the AC joint or involves other aspects of the shoulder. On examination, patients with an AC joint injury usually have tenderness directly over the AC joint and pain when bringing their arm across the body. He will then determine the severity and grade of the injury through tests such as an X-ray and in some cases an MRI or CT scan. These tests allow Dr. Boykin to determine that the injury the patient is suffering is in fact originating from the AC joint.
Treatment Options for AC Joint Injuries
Dr. Boykin will attempt to treat the injury in the least invasive manner possible. A majority of the milder injuries can successfully be treated non-operatively (without surgery). He may initially recommend rest, icing to control inflammation, a sling for immobilization, and eventually physical therapy. For more severe injuries and those that have failed the non-operative treatments mentioned above, surgery may be recommended. A decision for surgery is made with the patient and also based on the patient’s goals and activities.
The ultimate goal during surgery to treat the AC Joint is to stabilize the joint and correct the separation of the clavicle and acromion. This may be done successfully through multiple different surgical techniques. Dr. Boykin most commonly uses an arthroscopic AC joint stabilization procedure using small incisions, a camera, and specialized instruments as the technique of choice. However in certain cases an open procedure may be necessary to give the best chance for an optimal outcome.
If you have any questions regarding AC Joint Injuries or would like to consult with Dr. Robert Boykin, orthopedic shoulder, knee, and hip surgeon, feel free to contact him at his practice serving Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding North Carolina communities.