Hello, I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Traumatic Injury Attorney. Car accidents always carry the risk of personal injury with even the most minor of collisions. An acromioclavicular sprain (also known as AC Sprain Joint Sprain) is one of the injuries that many people involved in car accidents may sustain.
What is an Acromioclavicular Sprain?
An acromioclavicular sprain is also called a separated shoulder. Ordinarily, there are ligaments that provide support and hold the shoulder blade to the collarbone to facilitate coordinated movements between the shoulder and the upper arm. If these ligaments are injured, the shoulder can separate and this is called an acromioclavicular sprain.
Causes of an Acromioclavicular Sprain
There are several causes of an acromioclavicular sprain. Many people involved in contact sports can sustain this injury when they suffer a blow to the shoulder blade. Another common cause of an acromioclavicular sprain is a car accident. If a car is struck from the side, the side of the car can impact directly onto the shoulder, leading to a separated shoulder. People involved in motorcycle accidents can also fall and land on their shoulder, causing an acromioclavicular sprain. This is why motorcycle safety is paramount.
Options for Treatment
The treatment options for this injury range from conservative to aggressive options. People should start by resting their shoulder and minimizing use. Avoid activities that lead to discomfort and try to control the pain with over the counter medications. It might be helpful to immobilize the shoulder with a sling or a splint and attend physical therapy to recover from traumatic injuries.
Complications of an Acromioclavicular Sprain
There are several complications that can arise from an acromioclavicular sprain. People could experience a severe weakness in the affected arm and have trouble raising their arm due to the separation. People may also notice a bump that has formed if the sprain is severe. The shoulder joint may appear to hang lower than normal, leading to decreased mobility.
What Other Structures are at Risk?
With a severe sprain, both the acromioclavicular and the coracoclavicular ligaments could be ruptured. With this severe injury, the shoulder could be displaced downwards. This could lead to a brachial plexus injury that can alter motor and sensory function of the upper arm.
The differential diagnosis for an acromioclavicular sprain is large and includes:
- Rotator Cuff Injuries
- Shoulder dislocation
- Clavicle fracture
- Shoulder bursitis
- Torn labrum
- Pinched nerve
- Humerus fracture
Prognosis of an Acromioclavicular Sprain
The prognosis for most sprains of the AC joint is very good. Most people will regain full function in a month or two with conservative treatment and pain management. If the imaging shows a more severe separation, physical therapy and more aggressive treatment options might be required; however, most people with severe tears will eventually regain function with aggressive treatment.
If the conservative treatment options do not lead to recovery, physicians may recommend surgery. Surgery is strongly encouraged for people who perform heavy lifting or participate in professional sports because a full recovery could be essential to their quality of life. Surgery can be used to both repair and strengthen the ligaments to promote long-term health.
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Traumatic Injury Attorney. People involved in a serious car accident can call me at (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice. If you are reaching out from beyond the Sacramento region, use my toll-free number at (800) 404-5400.
I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This is a group of some of the top trial lawyers in the country who have won multiple million-dollar verdicts in the past.
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Image Attribution: Personal Injury Lawyer, Edward A. Smith