Centres of Excellence -> Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine -> Acromioclavicular (AC) joint stabilization

Acromioclavicular (AC) joint stabilization

The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is one of three joints located inside the shoulder. It is located where the acromion (part of the shoulder blade) joins the collarbone (clavicle) at the top of the shoulder. The joint is stabilized by the capsule and ligaments, and the injury occurs when these structures are damaged. When the capsule and ligaments are injured, the joint can become unstable and painful, and it can affect the function of the shoulder. This type of injury is called an separation or dislocation (luxation) of the AC joint, and usually occurs during a sudden fall on the shoulder and is among the most common injuries in the shoulder area.

Image: Anatomy of shoulder and acromioclavicular (AC) joint


  • Pain above the AC joint (pain at the top of the shoulder)
  • "Piano key phenomenon" - The raised clavicle (visible bump) can be returned to its natural position by pressure and rises again when the pressure is released
  • Swelling
  • Loss of movement in the shoulder
  • Pain when raising the arm

    If you have recently fallen on your shoulder and are experiencing some of the above symptoms, make an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon.


    Acromioclavicular (AC) dislocation is diagnosed based on clinical examination and radiological diagnostics. An X-ray of the shoulder is usually sufficient to establish a diagnosis, but sometimes, due to the evaluation of the condition of the ligaments and other structures, it is necessary to perform additional diagnostic tests such as ultrasound (USD) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All these radiological diagnostic methods are available in our Center for Radiology and Imaging.


    Treatment of AC dislocation can be conservative and surgical.

    Non-operative or conservative treatment of AC joint injuries consists of rest, wearing a bracelet and targeted physical therapy with the aim of achieving flexibility and range of motion, and strengthening the surrounding muscles. It is possible to conservatively treat AC luxations with a lower degree of instability, i.e., with incomplete damage to the capsule and ligaments. Rehabilitation after an injury can also be done in our Center for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

    In the case of severe instability, it is necessary to treat the AC joint surgically with an operation called acromioclavicular (AC) joint stabilization, which, in addition to stability, also relieves pain and normalizes the range of motion in the shoulder. The operation to stabilize the AC joint can be performed arthroscopically or openly, and consists of the reconstruction of the injured structures and the return of the clavicle to its natural position (reposition).

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