The sternoclavicular joint, or SC joint, is the connection of the breastbone (sternum) to the collarbone (clavicle). When an individual falls—for example, off of a bike or a ladder—their first instinct is to put their arm out in order to protect themselves from impact. When this event takes place, the risk for a sternoclavicular joint subluxation can occur. The sternoclavicular joint is not as commonly injured as some of the other structures of the shoulder area, however, if an injury is sustained to this region, ongoing symptoms can occur. Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado orthopedic shoulder surgeon, Dr. Peter Millett is highly trained and experienced at treating an SC joint subluxation and returning patients back to the everyday activities they love.
A sternoclavicular joint subluxation takes place when two bones (in this case, the collarbone and the breastbone) are pulled apart from their normal position, causing a displacement which will lead to severe pain, weakness, loss of mobility and joint instability. Subluxations and dislocations often mirror one another, however, in the case of a SC joint subluxation, the joint is only partially dislocated with articular surfaces still remaining intact. Once a subluxation occurs, the patient or a medical professional will oftentimes be able to pop the joint back in place. However, once a subluxation occurs, the tendons and ligaments surrounding the bones often become weak and stretched, which puts the joint at risk for future subluxations. Ongoing sternoclavicular joint instability can also occur leading to a chronic condition that causes apprehension, pain and limited mobility.
SC Subluxation Symptoms
A sternoclavicular joint subluxation typically causes an onset of sudden pain at the time of injury. The pain may become worse during overhead arm movements, heavy lifting, moving the injured arm across the body and lying on the affected side. Swelling and bruising may also be present in certain patients who have experienced an SC joint subluxation.
SC Subluxation Diagnosis
In order to diagnosis an SC joint subluxation. Dr. Millett will perform a complete medical review and physical examination of the injured shoulder. He may also perform a series of X-rays, an MRI scan and/or a CT scan to rule out other shoulder injuries and to determine the extent of injury.
SC Subluxation Treatment
Dr. Millett will attempt to treat the sternoclavicular joint subluxation by immobilizing the shoulder and prescribing rest, anti-inflammatory medications and ice. In some patients, prolotherapy can be used, which helps to stimulate the ligaments to tighten around the joint leading to a decrease in the reoccurrence of subluxations. Some patients may be better candidates for arthroscopic SC stabilization surgery where Dr. Millett will use tiny keyhole incisions to enter the clavicle and reinforce loose ligaments and tighten the capsule.
For additional information on sternoclavicular joint subluxation, or for more resources on SC joint subluxation treatment, please contact the Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado orthopedic office of Dr. Peter Millett.