AC Joint Pain Causes (Acromioclavicular Joint Problems)

AC Joint Pain Issues

The shoulder is instrumental in load transfer from arms to your trunk.

The AC (acromio-clavicular) joint is the linking socket that joins your collarbone and shoulder blade tip together.

This joint can be felt from your bare hand if you place it above your shoulder and feel for a slight bump rising a few centimetres vertically from the surface.

The AC joint plays a vital role in your every day movements. This being the only linkage between your shoulder and rest of the body, has a major role in transferring load from your arms to your trunk.

AC joint pain can be caused by an injury such as an AC joint sprain or separation of the AC joint. In some extreme cases, this joint can suffer degeneration in the long term.

This often happens with weight lifters or power lifters who put excessive pressure on this bone junction. From the long list of other issues that could result in severe AC joint paint, here are a few of the top causes.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a serious medical condition in which the range of movement offered by your shoulder is limited. This state is medically known as “adhesive capsulitis”. This condition occurs as a result of the thickening of your shoulder tissues. Once the tissues become tighter, an excessive tissue layer is developed. As a result, more area is covered and the AC joint does not have enough space to move properly.

This condition can be caused by various reasons. Hormonal imbalance or a weak immune system makes you vulnerable to such joint inflammation issues. Long bed rests can also be aiding agents for this conditions and normally people above 40 are more susceptible to it.

Rotator Cuff Tear

The Rotator cuff is a supportive group of muscles and tendons which aid in your shoulder’s overall stabilization. All shoulder movements are helped by the rotator cuff. Hence if it suffers an injury, not only your body movements but the AC joint and other shoulder parts also get affected. Any kind of strain or tendinitis of the rotator cuff also causes pain in your AC joint because it has to undergo more tension. Rotator cuff injuries are mostly mild but this doesn’t mean they are never severe. Precautions should be taken upon experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Pain while achieving full shoulder range.
  • Pain in the shoulder at night time.
  • Issues in reaching behind the back.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

This syndrome comprises of multiple medical conditions that jointly compress the thoracic outlet. The thoracic outlet is a narrow area between your first rib and the collar bone. It contains multiple nerves and blood vessels that extend from your back and shoulders into the whole body.

When the space in this outlet gets compressed, these vessels and nerves suffer, resulting in pain. This pain resides mostly in the shoulders and the neck area. Your AC joint also experiences discomfort in this condition. This issue is most common among people who have a history of poor body posture.

We hope this post helped you understand the causes behind AC joint pain issues and we recommend that your consult your doctor for treatments and advice after a preliminary diagnosis on the basis of symptoms mentioned here. If you have your own tips or experiences, please feel free to share via the comments below.


Jeremy Clark has written 12 articles

Jeremy loves traveling around the world and has spent a couple of years in Africa, which he believes were transformative for him. He studied medicine for a few years before switching to law but still loves writing about medical issues and research.

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