An Overview of AC Arthritis

Arthritis affects millions of Americans. AC arthritis, or osteoarthritis of the acromioclavicular joint, is quite common in middle-aged adults. This specific type of shoulder arthritis develops when the AC joint begins to deteriorate from loss of cartilage, causing AC joint pain and a limited range of motion in the shoulder. Dr. Peter Millett, orthopedic shoulder specialist, cares for a wide range of AC joint injuries, including AC shoulder arthritis.

As individuals age, cartilage in the shoulder area begins to deteriorate from overuse or normal wear and tear. Many individuals who experience cartilage loss will develop osteoarthritis. AC shoulder arthritis, much like other forms of osteoarthritis, can cause joint pain, inflammation and swelling.

Other causes of AC arthritis include an old injury to the AC joint, such as an AC joint separation, or repetitive overhead lifting. Athletes participating in contact sports are also at a higher risk of developing shoulder arthritis in the future if a hard fall or blunt hit to the shoulder area is sustained.

What are the symptoms of AC Arthritis?

One of the most common symptoms of AC shoulder arthritis is AC joint pain, or shoulder pain. Other common symptoms include tenderness at the top of the shoulder, swelling and limited range of motion.

Are you experiencing pain from AC arthritis?

There are two ways to initiate a consultation with Dr. Millett:

You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review ($250).

You can schedule an office consultation with Dr. Millett.

How is AC Arthritis Diagnosed?

In order to properly diagnosis AC joint pain and the presence of AC arthritis, Dr. Millett will perform a thorough physical examination. He will examine the shoulder for tenderness over the AC joint and the level of pain experienced when the joint is compressed or in motion. X-rays and an MRI may also be performed to confirm the AC shoulder arthritis diagnosis.

How is AC Arthritis Treated?

In many cases, AC arthritis treatment will begin with conservative measures such as rest, ice, cortisone injections and medications. If conservative measures do not alleviate AC joint pain, Dr. Millett may recommend a surgical approach. The most common surgical procedure used to treat AC shoulder arthritis is resection arthroplasty. During this procedure, a small amount of bone from the end of the collarbone is removed. The removal of this area of bone leaves a space that gradually fills with scar tissue. The procedure is effective in fighting the painful symptoms of AC arthritis.

For additional resources on AC arthritis, please contact the orthopedic practice of Dr. Peter Millett.