AC Joint Arthritis

What is AC Joint Arthritis?

If you find it difficult to reach your arm across your body and there is pain or tenderness located in the top of the shoulder, it could be a sign of AC joint arthritis.

Shoulder problems can be caused by a wide range of factors and AC joint arthritis is one of them. So, what is it and how do you know if arthritis is the cause of your pain and tenderness? Read on to discover everything you need to know

What is AC joint arthritis?

Acromioclavicular arthritis (AC joint arthritis) develops at the very top of the shoulder. The AC joint is located where the collar bone meets the top part of the scapula and, like other joints, it can be susceptible to wear and tear.

AC joint arthritis typically refers to progressive joint damage, typically affecting those aged 40 and over. As the cartilage wears away, it causes the ends of the bone to rub together. There is no cure, but there are ways to manage the condition.

What are the symptoms and causes of AC joint arthritis?

Identifying the symptoms of AC joint arthritis can help you to get the treatment you need quickly. However, it is worth pointing out that you may not experience any symptoms at all in the early stages of the condition.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain right at the top of the shoulder
  • Pain that worsens when you place your arm across the chest
  • Restricted movement, limiting your ability to carry out daily activities

You may also find that it affects your sleep with the pain worsening at night. So, what causes AC joint arthritis to occur?

In some cases, there is no clear cause. However, for most patients it develops due to overuse of the joint. This makes it a common concern for athletes. Other times, the condition can develop after a direct injury.

Whatever the cause, seeking treatment is important if you want to manage the condition and prevent it from impacting your daily life.

Treating AC joint arthritis

If you are diagnosed with AC joint arthritis, there are treatments that can ease the pain and make it more manageable to live with.

Pain medication can help to control any pain you feel, alongside heat or cold compressions. Physiotherapy is another common treatment option, helping to not only reduce the pain, but improve the patient’s range of motion.

Other treatment options include local anaesthetic and steroid injections, and keyhole surgery. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the AC joint. While this will help to stop the pain, it will not necessarily give you back your range of motion.

To find out if you are dealing with AC joint arthritis and the treatment that is best suited to you, call +44 (0) 203 195 2442 to book a consultation with one of our expert surgeons today.