AC Arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which is located at the top of the shoulder where the clavicle (collarbone) and highest part of the scapula (shoulder blade) meet. In this joint, slippery, flexible articular cartilage covers and protects the ends of the acromion and clavicle bones. During the development of arthritis, cartilage may thin or disappear. The body may attempt to produce new cells, but it is typically not enough to replace the amount of missing cartilage.
Like most cases of arthritis, AC arthritis happens when the cartilage protecting certain bones within the joint wears thin after repeated movements. Other common causes include injuries, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, and septic arthritis.
The most common symptoms of arthritis in the acromioclavicular (AC) joint are pain and limited range of motion, which appear gradually over time and progressively worsen. It comes in many forms, but is most commonly identified as osteoarthritis. Additional symptoms include:
- Pain focused on the top of the shoulder, radiating to the side of neck
- Difficulty lifting your arm to comb your hair or reach up to a shelf
- Grinding, clicking of snapping sounds as you move your shoulder
OKC Orthopedics Sports Medicine is committed to helping patients with AC Arthritis return to the highest level of activity possible. Treatment of AC arthritis depends on the severity of the symptoms and the presence of other shoulder problems.
As with other arthritic conditions, initial treatment of AC arthritis is nonsurgical. However, if pain persists and causes disability, surgery may be recommended. Our orthopedic surgeons are experts in shoulder arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure in which small instruments and a thin, flexible medical device with a camera pass through an incision the size of a small Band-Aid. After surgery, our physical therapists guide each patient through a personalized rehabilitation program to restore strength and mobility.