Treatment

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.

Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), may help ease shoulder pain.

Therapy

  • 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
References
  1. Koehler SM. Acromioclavicular joint injuries. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 17, 2016.
  2. Shoulder separation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00033. Accessed June 17, 2016.
  3. 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.