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Acromioclavicular Joint Separation

Shoulder separations are often caused by a fall directly on the apex of the shoulder or by a blunt force such as a football tackle or a cyclist falling over their handlebars. 

In each of these situations, the brutal force of the action pushes the scapula down. 

Unfortunately, the collarbone cannot match the movements of the scapula due to its attachment to the rib cage.  Therefore, ligaments around the joint begin to fray, eventually dislocating the joint and causing intense pain in the shoulder.   

The type Acromioclavicular (AC) joint separation depends on the damage of its surrounding structures.  Divided into three categories, separations are ranked from mild to severe according to which ligaments have been hurt.

Grade 1 Acromioclavicular joint separation

The mildest injury, a grade one, is a simple sprain of the acromioclavicular joint. 

Grade 2 Acromioclavicular joint separation

In a grade two, the separation involves a tear of the surrounding AC ligaments and a sprain of the coracoclavicular ligaments. 

Grade 3 Acromioclavicular joint separation

The final stage is complete separation of the AC joint.  Here, AC ligaments are torn, its surrounding ligaments are damaged, and a bump or protrusion has formed on the shoulder. 

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