Shoulder Separation

Shoulder Injuries
NASPE/NCAT Sport Injury Resource

A separated shoulder occurs when the ligament(s) holding the collarbone (clavicle) to the tip of the shoulder (acromion process) is sprained (torn). The joint is called the acromioclavicular joint or AC joint for short. If you feel the top part of your shoulder, you will feel a little bump. The normal bump you feel is your AC joint and is where a shoulder separation occurs. This injury often occurs when an athlete falls on their outstretched arm or lands on their shoulder.

Indicators:
Depending on the severity of ligament injury, the bump (AC joint) may be larger/higher compared to the other shoulder. The athlete will experience pain lifting the arm out to the side or across their body. And, of course, there will be pain over the “bump”.
Treatment:
Apply ice to the area and stabilize the shoulder, either with a sling or by having the athlete put their hand into their waistband to limit arm movement. Transport the athlete to a physician as soon as possible.


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