What is Acromioclavicular Arthrosis?

Acromioclavicular ArthrosisAcromioclavicular arthrosis is an arthritic condition that affects the acromioclavicular or the AC joint in the shoulder. This is the reason that this condition is also referred to as AC joint arthritis. Although this arthritis affects one of the joints in the shoulder, this is not exactly a form of shoulder arthritis. In acromioclavicular arthritis, the joint just goes thin.

Difference Between Acromioclavicular Arthrosis and Shoulder Arthritis

The primary difference between the two forms of arthritis is the joint that gets affected or damaged. In AC arthritis, as mentioned above, it is the AC joint that gets damaged or goes thin. In shoulder arthritis, it is the glenohumeral joint that gets damaged and the cartilage in the arm bone or the humerus gets depleted.

Causes of AC Arthritis

AC arthritis is the resultant of wear and tear (osteoarthritis). Over years, the shoulder joint is subjected to several repetitive movements. As a person ages, the cartilage layer over the joint begins to wear away slowly ultimately causing arthritis of the joint.

  • Injuries like separation of the shoulder (post-traumatic arthritis) can also trigger the arthritis.
  • In the above two cases, arthritis of the joint occurs as a person ages, but a person suffering rheumatoid arthritis can have his/her joint affected at any age.

Signs and Symptoms

The following are the signs and symptoms of AC arthrosis-

  • swollen and a tender AC joint
  • pain while trying to move the shoulder (especially during overhead movements and movements across the chest)
  • presence of bony growths in the joint region (evident upon using an X-ray or MRI)


The first thing to do as part of treatment is to rest the shoulder completely. Even if it has to be used, there should be some modifications made in order to alleviate the pain.

  • Ice packs can also help alleviate the pain and swelling.
  • In case the pain is only mild or moderate, NSAIDs or steroidal injections will do. Physical therapy would also be recommended by doctors to improve the range of motions of the shoulder.
  • But if the pain caused by acromioclavicular arthrosis is severe, then a surgery would be necessary.

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