Shoulder separation doesn't mean your shoulder has split in half! but it is however a sprain or rupture of the joint ligaments between the collarbone and the top of the shoulder. You may have heard of the A/C joint (Acromioclavicular joint), this is the area where it is painful to touch, between the collarbone and shoulder. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body and very difficult to diagnose due to being padded with muscles therefore it is helpful to give as much information as possible when seeing your doctor.
CAUSE OF SHOULDER SEPARATION
Usually in sport as in rugby or wrestling, falling onto the point of the shoulder, or performing a lot of over head shots as in badminton or tennis.
SYMPTOMS OF SHOULDER SEPARATION
The top of the shoulder is tender and hurts when pressed. Sometimes you can see a visible 'step' in the shoulder. A throwing action causes pain and when the arm is raised in towards the head, the pain is felt at the top of the shoulder. In severe cases, movement will be limited and the fingers will feel cold and stiff.
TREATMENT OF SHOULDER SEPARATION
The first thing is rest, and if pain is severe, put the arm in a sling to immobilise. Apply ice to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Follow the RICE procedure. Seek medical advice. Usually after 2 or 3 days movement should be encouraged, starting with the fingers and wrist and gradually moving the arm but only within pain-free range. Your doctor will usually advise you regarding an exercise program depending on the severity of the injury.
RECOVERY OF SHOULDER SEPARATION
Usual fitness program can be done but WITHOUT any overhead actions, no push-ups and no weights. If ligament damage has not been too bad a full recovery can be within a couple of months.