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Am J Sports Med. 2013 Nov;41(11):2684-92. doi: 10.1177/0363546513485359. Epub 2013 May 6.

Degenerative joint disease of the acromioclavicular joint: a review.

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Brian J. Cole, Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, 1611 W Harrison, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60612.


Osteoarthritis of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint is a common condition causing anterior or superior shoulder pain, especially with overhead and cross-body activities. This most commonly occurs in middle-aged individuals because of degeneration to the fibrocartilaginous disk that cushions the articulations. Diagnosis relies on history, physical examination, imaging, and diagnostic local anesthetic injection. Diagnosis can be challenging given the lack of specificity with positive physical examination findings and the variable nature of AC joint pain. Of note, symptomatic AC osteoarthritis must be differentiated from instability and subtle instability, which may have similar symptoms. Although plain radiographs can reveal degeneration, diagnosis cannot be based on this alone because similar radiographic findings can be seen in asymptomatic individuals. Nonoperative therapy can provide symptomatic relief, whereas patients with persistent symptoms can be considered for resection arthroplasty by open or arthroscopic technique. Both techniques have proven to provide predictable pain relief; however, each has its own unique set of potential complications that may be minimized with an improved understanding of the anatomical and biomechanical characteristics of the joint along with meticulous surgical technique.


acromioclavicular; degenerative joint disease; osteoarthritis; shoulder

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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