Acromioclavicular (AC) arthritis is an extremely common problem. It may be stated that almost all “grown up” patients have some degree of arthritis in the AC joint. It may even occur at a younger age due to contact sports or trauma to the AC joint. Symptoms include pain in the AC joint and it may be swollen and tender. Bench-presses or push-ups often are painful and impossible to perform.
Conservative treatment includes rest and steroid injections. If the arthritis progresses and conservative treatment does not help, operative treatment is necessary. In operative treatment, the AC joint is debrided and leveled with a bur. New, fibrous scar-tissue connection builds between the end of the clavicle and the acromion. In 1–2 months, the AC- joint is usually healed enough for light, everyday use. However, it takes about 2–4 months until the AC joint can withstand bench-presses and push-ups again.
The operated arm is kept in a sling for a day or two. However, it is not obligatory to use any support at all. From the beginning, the patient may use his/her arm freely depending on the severity of the pain. There is no danger in harming the arm by moving it.