Most people enjoy a full recovery after conservative treatment. A minor separation usually heals within a few weeks. A more severe separation might take several weeks to months to heal. You might 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 or fracture of the clavicle, surgery might be an option. Surgery can reconnect torn ligaments and reposition or stabilize injured bones.
Nov. 22, 2016
- Koehler SM. Acromioclavicular joint injuries. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 17, 2016.
- Shoulder separation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00033. Accessed June 17, 2016.
- Safran MR, et al. Acromioclavicular separation (separated shoulder). In: Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Sauders Elsevier; 2012. http://www/clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 17, 2016.