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Shoulder Surgery as an Option for Managing Pain from AC Joint Arthritis

If you have arthritis in your shoulder AC joint, you may have pain when you move your arm a certain way. The acromioclavicular joint is where your clavicle bone meets your shoulder blade. When you have arthritis, the cartilage gets worn away and the two bones rub on each other and cause pain.

Your doctor will probably try a variety of treatments to manage your pain, but if none of those work, shoulder surgery might be necessary. Here's an overview of shoulder surgery for acromioclavicular joint repair.

A Minimally Invasive Procedure Might Be Possible

AC joint surgery might be open surgery that requires a large incision or a minimally invasive surgery that can be done with a few small incisions. Recovery is usually easier with the minimally invasive option, but sometimes an open incision could be needed. Your surgeon will determine the best way to do your shoulder surgery based on the degree of damage to the joint.

Incisions Are Made on Top of Your Shoulder

The incision is made on top of your shoulder so the surgeon can access the clavicle bone easily. If you're having minimally invasive surgery, one incision is for the camera that allows the doctor to see the joint inside your body, and the other incisions are for inserting instruments.

Since worn-down cartilage can't be replaced, the surgery will remove the part of the clavicle bone that's rubbing against your shoulder blade. The surgeon will cut off the end of the bone and remove it from your shoulder. This keeps the bones from rubbing together, and your shoulder will still function normally.

Outpatient Surgery is Possible

This shoulder surgery can sometimes be done as an outpatient surgery, meaning you can potentially go home the same day as your surgery once you're alert and feeling well. After the surgery, you'll need to wear a sling for as long as your doctor recommends. When you're ready to remove the sling, you'll need to be careful about heavy lifting and strenuous activities until your shoulder has completely healed.

Your doctor may send you to physical therapy to help you heal properly to help you regain full range of motion in your shoulder and build back your muscle strength.

Once you've healed from surgery, you should notice a reduction in your shoulder pain. You should be able to move your arm in all directions without pain, and you may even resume an active lifestyle, including working out and playing sports.

Chronic pain from arthritis is frustrating and it can make your daily life more difficult. If you are unable to manage AC joint pain through medications, then shoulder surgery could be the best solution for reducing your pain and helping you resume activities you love. Consult an orthopedic surgeon to learn more.