Most people enjoy a full recovery after conservative treatment. 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 affected shoulder, but it shouldn't affect your ability to use that shoulder.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help ease shoulder pain.
- Rest. Avoid activities that aggravate your shoulder pain, especially crossing the 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 for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
- Physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help restore strength and motion in your shoulder.
Surgical and other procedures
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.
Jan. 23, 2014
- Knoop KJ, et al. The Atlas of Emergency Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6002780. Accessed June 14, 2013.
- Shoulder separation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00033. Accessed June 14, 2013.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed June 14, 2013.
- Koehler SM. Acromioclavicular joint injuries. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 17, 2013.