When it comes to shoulder injuries, the rotator cuff gets most of the attention. However, if your pain is felt more at the top of your shoulder, it could be an acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprain or separation.
The acromioclavicular joint is what connects the collarbone (clavicle) to the top of the scapula (shoulder blade). AC joint pain can result from a single-event trauma like a fall or it can stem from arthritis due to repetitive motion.
Jobs with heavy lifting could be the culprit
If you work a job that requires repetitive heavy lifting, you could be at risk of developing an acromioclavicular (AC) joint injury. Symptoms of AC joint injuries can include:
- Swelling, bruising or a visible bump on the shoulder
- Weakness and pain in the arm or shoulder
- Diminished range of motion in the arm or shoulder
- A popping sound when you move your shoulder
While AC joint injuries can be correctable when caught early, they still may require several weeks of physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, ice packs and temporary reduction in the use of the affected shoulder. If you continue working through the pain, you may eventually require steroid shots and even surgery to find relief.
Healing an acromioclavicular joint injury can take a few weeks to a few months to rehabilitate. If this injury is due to the demands of your job, you may qualify for a worker’s compensation claim. Employers have a legal responsibility to pay for medical care associated with a workplace injury.