Osteoarthritis of the Acromioclavicular Joint

The collar bone (called clavicle) and shoulder blade (acromion process) come in contact to form acromioclavicular joint (AC).

Osteoarthritis of the AC joint is an inflammatory condition and more common than shoulder arthritis. This arthritis occurs when the cartilage that protects the bone ends of the AC joint starts damaging causes arthritis of this joint.


  • Pain during shoulder movements
  • Tenderness on the top of the shoulder
  • Stiffness
  • Restricted range of shoulder movement
  • Crepitus sensation or clicking noise
  • Extra bone formation ( bone spurs)
  • Pain can radiate in the arm
  • Swelling
  • Pain and difficulty while sleeping on the affected side


  • Injury to the AC joint
  • Wear and tear of the AC joint cartilage due to increasing age
  • Other conditions like autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis etc.
  • Repeated movements can also cause cartilage wear at AC joint
  • Any defect by birth


  • Physical examination by your doctor, Your doctor will do a compressive test to check the condition. Your symptoms and history will also help in making a diagnosis
  • The bony injuries and bone spurs checked on the x-ray
  • MRI also suggested for specification
  • To relieve pain a local anesthetic agent is injected into the AC joint directly. But if pain still persists it means there is some other problem.
  • Conservative
    • Give rest to the affected joint and avoid activities that cause pain in the shoulder joint
    • Hot and cold therapy at the affected area
    • Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises to the shoulder muscles to improve the range of motion and enhance the muscle power
    • Medication to reduce the pain and inflammation
    • Injections of steroids help in relieving severe pain
  • Surgery: Surgery is the option after all the conservative modes of treatment fail to manage the condition
    • Resection of the distal clavicle is commonly performed in AC joint osteoarthritis, in this end of the clavicle bone is removed to open up space and reduce friction
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