Surgery for Severe Shoulder Sprains

NYU Langone doctors may recommend surgery for a severe shoulder sprain in which the acromioclavicular joint completely separates. This joint normally connects the acromion, or the boney projection at the at the top of the shoulder blade, to the collarbone, or clavicle. An acromioclavicular joint separation dislocates the clavicle, causing a bump on the shoulder. The end of the clavicle can rub on the acromion causing pain and swelling.

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Doctors may suggest surgery when other forms of treatment such as medical therapy and physical or occupational therapy do not relieve symptoms or help the injury to heal.

Surgery for Acromioclavicular Joint Separation

When possible, NYU Langone surgeons perform surgery for acromioclavicular joint separation using an arthroscopic approach. Surgery can involve trimming the end of the clavicle, so it does not rub against the acromion. Sometimes, the ligaments that support these structures may also need to be repaired.

A surgeon performs arthroscopic surgery using a slim instrument called an arthroscope, which has a video camera and a light at one end. When the surgeon inserts the arthroscope into the shoulder through a small incision, it sends a video feed to a nearby monitor. This gives the surgeon a clear view of the interior of the acromioclavicular joint and shows tiny details of surrounding ligaments and other tissue. Next, the surgeon inserts small surgical tools into the shoulder through a separate small incision to shave down the end of the clavicle and to repair torn ligaments that support the joint.


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At NYU Langone, arthroscopic surgery is an outpatient procedure, so you can expect to return home within hours of surgery. After you have healed, doctors recommend physical therapy to rebuild muscle strength and restore range of motion.

Our Research and Education in Shoulder Sprains and Strains

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.