Non-Operative

Patients with lower energy AC joint injuries that respond to conservative non-operative treatment can recover in as little as one week for a Grade I injury to an average of twelve weeks for a Grade III injury.

Operative

Specific recovery programs following surgical reconstruction of the AC joint vary depending on the type of surgery performed. General care recommendations include:
  • The use of a sling is required for about 4 weeks.
  • Incisions must be kept dry for about three days after surgery.
  • Stitches are usually removed 7 - 10 days after surgery.
  • Lower arm exercises may begin immediately. With an open surgical technique the arm may be immobilized for 2-3 weeks before motion exercises are begun.
  • No lifting for 3 weeks.
  • Overhead motion is limited for the first 8-12 weeks because the fixation of the clavicle to the coracoid process prevents the normal rotation necessary for overhead movements.
  • The patient is allowed use of the arm at waist height to write or perform computer work for the first 12 weeks. After that time, the screw (if used) is removed, or the sutures have softened enough to begin more aggressive range of motion and strengthening exercises.
  • After the removal of the sling, 6-8 weeks of physical therapy is necessary to regain full motion.
  • Strength and velocity motions of the throwing athlete may be delayed for 4-6 months.

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