Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
A separated shoulder is usually treated conservatively. Your doctor may recommend:
- Rest. Avoid activities that aggravate your shoulder pain, especially crossing your affected arm in front of your body. You might want to temporarily immobilize your arm in a sling to take pressure off your shoulder and promote healing.
- Ice. Ice can reduce shoulder pain and swelling. Use a cold pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or a towel filled with ice cubes for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this every couple of hours the first day or two while you're awake, and then as often as needed.
- Medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers also can ease shoulder pain.
- Shoulder exercises. Physical therapy can help you restore strength and motion in your shoulder.
Most people enjoy a full recovery after conservative treatment — although the more severe the shoulder separation, the longer it'll take to regain comfortable use of your shoulder. A minor separation may heal within a few weeks. A more severe separation may take several weeks to months to heal. You may always have a noticeable bump on the injured shoulder, but it shouldn't affect your ability to use your shoulder.
If pain persists or if you have a severe separation, surgery might be an option. Surgery can reconnect torn ligaments and reposition or stabilize injured bones.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Shoulder separation. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00033. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Shoulder problems. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Shoulder_Problems/shoulder_problems_ff.asp. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Koehler SM. Acromioclavicular injuries. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- McMahon PJ, et al. Sports medicine. In: Skinner HB. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Orthopedics. 4th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2006. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2319233. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Raukar NP, et al. Extremity trauma. In: Knoop KJ, et al. The Atlas of Emergency Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=6002779. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Provencher MT, et al. Injuries to the acromioclavicular joint in adults and children. In: DeLee JC, et al. DeLee & Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..X0001-2--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-3143-7&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Jan. 6, 2011.