What is a separated shoulder?

Separated shoulder, also known as AC joint separation occurs from a direct fall on or blow to the shoulder. This injury accounts for 9%-12% of shoulder injuries. Continue reading to learn more about recognizing and treating AC joint separation.

Understanding the anatomy

Three bones form the shoulder joint: the humerus (upper arm bone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the clavicle (collarbone).  The AC joint, short for acromioclavicular joint, is where the clavicle meets the highest portion of the scapula, the acromion, and is held together by the acromioclavicular (AC) ligament and coracoclavicular (CC) ligament.

Who gets AC joint separation?

This most often occurs in men in their 20’s who participate in contact sports like football, hockey, and wrestling.  However, it can occur in anyone with a traumatic injury to the shoulder.


“Shoulder Separation (AC Joint Separation)”

In my nearly twenty-five years of orthopaedic practice, almost every patient referred to me with shoulder pain comes to my office with some form of fear about having a torn rotator cuff. Thankfully, not every aching shoulder is caused by a torn rotator cuff (RC), but it is common for the presence of a torn rotator cuff to cause pain.


““Doc, my Shoulder Hurts…is it my Rotator Cuff?””