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Acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) pain

What is it?  

Acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) pain occurs where the collar (clavicle) bone meets the shoulder blade (scapula).

The shoulder joint – front view of a left shoulder

  1. Clavicle (collar bone)
  2. 1st rib
  3. Acromion (tip of shoulder blade)
  4. Coracoid process
  5. Head of humerus (ball of joint)
  6. Gleniod fossa (socketof joint)

Pain in this joint can occur if you carry out a lot of activities that require you to lift your arms above your head.

Making changes to the amount of overhead activities you do can ease the pain. Painkillers can manage the symptoms, but seek advice from your GP or pharmacist before taking. If the pain is persistent, physiotherapy will also help.

If you have injured your ACJ by falling on your shoulder or similar trauma please seek advice from a medical professional such as your GP, Physiotherapist or Emergency Dept. It may be necessary to protect the injury by wearing a sling in the first few weeks. If you don’t have access to a sling you can click here to learn how to make your own.

In some case you may benefit from having an x-ray within the pain locality.

How to manage it

  • Pain management
  • Physiotherapy and exercises

Click here for an exercise leaflet developed by versus arthritis to help with shoulder pain.

  • Posture – How you hold your head and shoulders is important. If the head and shoulder blade are pushed forward (for example, hunched or rounded shoulders), this position forces the shoulder muscles to work in an abnormal way. This can then lead to a reduction in the mechanical efficiency of the shoulder during movement and pain around the acromioclavicular joint

Physiotherapy 

If you find that you are not improving, some advice or treatment from a physiotherapist can be helpful in managing shoulder pain. Click here to self-refer to a physiotherapist.

How to prevent and manage future symptoms?

Avoid excessive overhead activities and change position regularly.

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