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You can live with Type III AC joint separation, but I want more

It’s been three weeks or so since the AC joint and supporting ligaments in my left shoulder were completely torn apart.

My recent visit to the orthopedics doc left me kind of annoyed. I waited for about an hour and when the doc finally came in, the first thing he asked me was what I did for a living. I replied with my typical “I’m an IT guy”, to which he replied “Well, you can have surgery, but you’ll be fine without it.”

At that point he was ready to wrap up the visit only 60 seconds in. I asked if the ligaments would ever grow back, and was told they wouldn’t unless I got the surgery. He went on to explain that the muscles in the shoulder would grow to compensate for the lack of support, and unless I was a pro tennis player or something like that, then I shouldn’t worry about it. I asked him if there were any limitations or loss of structural integrity and was told “nothing significant.”

Well I’m sorry, but it seemed to me that a proper shoulder should be supported by the very ligaments I tore. Yes, being an IT guy, the likelihood of me taking up a pro tennis career is practically nil. However, I still felt that any loss of structural support like that couldn’t be good, especially when I get older. After getting my hands on some orthopedics texts while visiting a doctor friend of mine today, I found that indeed a 5% to 10% loss of strength can be expected with a type III separation. What bothers me most isn’t the permanent bump on my left shoulder, or the fact that the ortho doc I saw was basically saying “you’re a fat IT guy, you won’t miss what you don’t use”… what really bothers me is the thought of being broken, especially when I have the option to fix it.

As of today, amazingly I can move my left arm around pretty good and I’m gaining some strength back. I still can’t lift my arm up to raise my hand or anything, and I have no hope of doing things like reaching around to scratch my back. The pain in the AC joint itself is still very real, and it lets me know when I go too far, but all in all I’m impressed with my body’s ability to cope. All the muscles around my scapula still cramp up like nobody’s business, and I have to take frequent rests to help calm those puppies down… but things are progressing.

So with all this progress and not much in the way of lost function to look forward to, why am I considering surgery? Aside from the fixer in me that is bothered as hell that one thing that is supposed to be connected to another just isn’t, and will never be without surgery… the fact is I have an opportunity to take a small risk to fix the problem while I’m young enough to recover as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. No amount of muscle building or physical therapy can get my body to a state as structurally sound as how I’m naturally supposed to be put together.

Still, the argument for just letting it recover without surgery and live with the separated shoulder is a good one, particularly when my physical activity level is currently so low and the foreseeable future doesn’t assume any increase. The real bottom line is; I want my limitations to be entirely of my choosing. I know that sounds kind of funny, but let me explain it this way; When I was a kid growing up, I liked keys. I began collecting them because I knew they would let me into something or somewhere. Eventually that collection became known as “the forbidden key chain”, and held such gems as the mater key to all the doors in my high school, the key to a mountain top communications relay station, and several others. I never used any of these keys… well, ok rarely did I ever use only a couple keys from the forbidden key chain a couple times, but my point is I had the option to use them, but chose not to. The important thing was that I had the choice… and really that’s all anyone wants. I see it all the time.

Let’s say a someone is looking over a clearance table in a local store. They stand and look over the items with other people. As they look over the various things, they are making judgments about usefulness, value, etc. but ultimately nothing from the table interests them. Then this casual browser overhears a couple standing on the other side of the table talking about an item sitting next to the casual browser. Immediately the mind races… the browser instantly becomes an aggressive shopper, rechecking the table, reassessing the item in question. The browser may even be prodded into action by pretending they didn’t hear the couple talking as they pick the item up… staking a claim to it by simply holding it, and at the same time reserving the option, the choice, to purchase it. Whether or not the casual browser decides to buy the item or not is irrelevant. Action was taken because of the pressure generated by the knowledge that soon, if they didn’t act fast, the choice to buy it would be gone. The knowledge that the item itself would be gone is not the affecting issue, the browser had already determined that it was of no interest. Action was taken due to the potential loss of choice.

So here I sit with my broken shoulder. No matter what the doc told me, I know there will be limitations. For example, with my shoulder the way it is I don’t have the choice to take up professional tennis. I know I’ve had and will have a lot more situations come up in my life where I have no choices at all, but in this case I do have one. I can choose to get the surgery.

I’ll give it a month, let things settle down with my shoulder and my day job projects, then I will revisit this decision. Luckily, the doc told me this is a choice that can wait.

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457 Responses to “You can live with Type III AC joint separation, but I want more”

  1. Marc says:

    Hi everyone

    I had a complete ac dislocation as a result of an idiotic tumble in 2004…. I think grade 3 or 4. It’s been causing me a lot of problems recently especially in my neck and is complicating my recovery from a separate back injury . At the time the surgeon at the hospital I attended did not offer me the option of surgery. I went to see a Physio Therapist and she was adamant I needed surgery and could not believe I hadn’t been offerd it. I went to see and osteopath yesterday for treatment and she had to do a lot of work around my chest, neck, traps, scapula. She was ‘amazed’ it hadn’t been operated on at the time.

    Anyway, it’s 8 years since the accident and I’m wondering if surgery is a possibility so any years after ? It is really bothering me now, I’d love to get it fixed.

  2. vishwa says:

    Dear All,
    Last week fell down and broke my collar bone. i met couple of doctor and both of them said it is optional but i have still bump out there. would say 60% of function has come back but decided to go ahead with surgery, My question is
    1.i am working in bank how long should i stay at home post operation
    2. Will it have scar on ma body??
    3.I ve never been to any surgeries, will it be painful post op?
    Thanks in advance

  3. Scott says:

    I’m a 35 yr old active male and I just separated my right (non-dominant shoulder) for the second time in my life. The first time was when I was 21 and in college, hurt it playing flag-football (fell forward w my right arm outstretched in front of me). I didn’t go to the hospital or doctor – it felt like a sprain – but I did have a decent bump where my collarbone stuck up. I suppose it was a Class 1 or 2 separation. The bump never went away, but after a few weeks, the pain was gone and I had full ROM with no pain. I have been a regular runner since then, and did moderate weights and many other sports casually without ever experiencing pain, ROM issues or numbness / soreness later.
    Just yesterday, I fell on the same arm trying to catch a line drive in a softball game. I knew right away that something was wrong – much more pain than the first time, and my bump was probably twice as high. I went to the hospital and the ER doc diagnosed it as a Class 2 or 3 separation. The pain is manageable now (taking 2 Advil’s twice a day) as long as I don’t move my arm. I see a shoulder specialist tomorrow.
    Given that I felt like I recovered without any residual pain or soreness from my first injury, I’m tempted to forgoe surgery to see how I heal. I’m not a big fan of surgery bc I think the risk of long term issues can be worse – especially if the surgery isn’t done perfectly. I’m OK w a bump on my shoulder – I suupose my new one will be bigger than the old one. But given that I’m realatively young (35), I believe my body will be able to heal itself w this particular injury. I’ll keep you posted. Good luck to everyone else out there recovering or looking for advice.

  4. Brian says:

    Marc –

    I went 10 years without surgery after a grade 5 separation. LIke you, people were surprised I wasn’t offered surgery the first time. I had a modified Weaver Dunn surgery this past December and have made a lot of progress on the shoulder. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.

    surgery is definitely still possible!

  5. Paul says:

    Brett, with a grade 3, anything that resembles a throwing motion is problematic as cross-body movements tend to alternately compress and sublux the joint where there is instability. A sport with highly repetitive movements eventually irritates and inflames the area which is a precursor to arthritis. Of course, any invasive joint surgery will also eventually result in some level of arthritis, just a more delayed in onset. The best one can do in either case is to maintain shoulder range of motion and build-up the supporting muscle strength and stability. I’ve found that improving trapezius and deltoid strength through the use of kettelbell snatch, clean and jerk, and walking with bell held overhead has helped do this for me.

  6. Paul says:

    Jamie, I too have had a grade 3 separation and like to do pressing movements. Through a process of trial and error, I’ve discovered that whereas I can still do overhead pressing movements, which have some associated discomfort, push presses and jerks are accompanied by little or no pain because they effectively bypass most of the resistance encountered through the middle 1/3 of the range of motion, which is where I’ve felt most of the discomfort.
    A side benefit of doing kettlebell snatches, clean and jerks, swings (kind of like a high or power pull), and overhead kettlebell walking, has been the increased development of my trapezius, etc., which I think has helped significantly to improve stability and reduce pain.
    Consequently, what I’ve been noticing more recently is reduced discomfort with bench press type movements (albeit with kettlebells which is all I currently have).
    Anyway, I know that what may work for one is not guaranteed to work for another, I hope it may be somewhat encouraging.

  7. Prasert Sawasdiwipachai says:

    I got this grade III AC joint separation from bike crash. I was seen by the orthopedic surgeon at my work place (I work in the hospital). He gave me a choice to or not to undergo surgery for repair. I was explained about this at length and I shocked me that I didn’t think it would be this much of a deal. However, to cut story short, I decided to go for surgery at day 26th after my first fall which is considered late and even the orthopedic surgeon weren’t so sure that the outcome would still be good as compare to early surgery.

    Anyhow, I got my surgery done and I’m currently on postoperative day no 19. I was told to wear arm sling as much as I can and I’ll be allowed to start PT on postop day no 21. I’ve been doing some isometric exercise on my shoulder. I was allowed to do anything with my elbow and my wrist.

    I was warned about the failure of surgery (tip of collar bone went back as before surgery). Although, many of medical literature judge this failure at 3 months. I am planning to follow my orthopedist strictly. I also plan to wear arm sling as much as I can. I will try my best to not overuse this shoulder, given than I’m an ordinary person-not an athlete. I also want to thank my surgeon and my anesthesiologist wholeheartedly. His name is Dr. Bavornrat Vanadurongwan. My anesthesiologist is also a kind and such a beautiful lady, she got terrific skills in doing nerve block. I went home right after my surgery after I woke up from anesthesia, I didn’t feel any pain until the 2nd day. Only took some tylenol. Her name is Dr. Busara  Sirivanasandha. They both working hard for the poor people at Siriraj Hospital in Thailand.

  8. Coleman87 says:

    I had Modified Weaver Dunn procedure done almost 7 months ago. I was fitness model/bodybuilder and even though I can regularly train the shoulder is not the same as before. I have weird feelings in my scapula and my shoulder and back get sore. I wonder if I will total recover from this nasty injury.
    Sorry for my english, spaniard…

  9. Paul says:

    Coleman/spaniard, Even though you’ve begun training again (kudos to you), it takes your body at least 12 months to fully recover from a surgery that has an impact on your whole shoulder girdle. In the meantime, take your time, implement gentle, strategic trial and error in your training, correct asymmetries (in range of motion, stability, strength, posture) as you find them, adapt, maybe have a sports massage, and Never Give Up!

  10. DanF says:

    I suffered a Grade 5 ACJ in France appx 4 weeks ago and opted for surgery as:

    a:they do more of these operations on average than my local hospital in the UK (in an Alps hospital)
    b:my arm was appx 2\3 inches lower than where it should be!

    With regards to scarring, I have a 6 inch scar over my shoulder, appx 4 inches of which is visible on the front and the remaining 2 inches going over my shoulder to my back. I still have a visible sutchure at the back.
    I have had no pain from the actual operation itself and I would say 3\4 days in I could stop taking painkillers for it directly. I was however having back pain all over the shoulder area across my back. I visited a private physio in week 2 and as no shoulder manipulation was allowed it was noted that I had whiplash issues. This was treated and exercises given for myself to complete at home and I have noticed drastic improvements in pain reduction, even up to the point where I have gone the odd day without painkillers. Most improvements were after week 3, mainly due to the physio treatment and natural healing. Week 4 and I am now doing very minimal shoulder exercises.
    I too work in IT and have not returned to work as I cannot sit for extended periods of time or extend my arm out and to the sides as my upper arm\shoulder does not have the strength yet,
    I am hoping by week 6 to be at the point where I can drive and return back to work.
    Hope you guys recover well and if you decide on the op have the same level of recovery as myself.

  11. GaryN says:

    Just saw a sports medicine specialist yesterday, I have level 3/4 ac separation in my right shoulder my dominate one the Dr, recommended surgery right away. Had a moron cut me and my motorcycle off on the interstate and never slowed down or stopped, got tossed from mike bike, fortunately for me I landed in the grass with a severe impact but I walked away from the crash. The Dr. Recommended surgery sooner than later because scar tissue set up making the surgery more difficult and recovery time longer. Now I morn for my bike which I have had for couple years but waited till my kids were grown to get this bike. Beautiful harley softail custom with custom paint job that can’t be replaced. All because someone was in a rush me and my bike are wrecked.

  12. AdamC says:

    Hi DanF.

    Sounds like you have he carbon copy injury as myself. I can over my mountain bike on 24th August and was diagnosed with a grade V Shoulder Separation. Within 3 days, the good old NHS had inserted a hook plate to attach my clavicle back to my shoulder. Been two weeks since surgery and every day it seems a little better. Still get a lot of pain when I use my arm during the day but it is bearable. Sleep is real struggle though. Not allowed to drive until the 9th Oct.

    Just want to know how you are getting on as you seem to be further into the recovery than me, can I have hope that week 3 (as going back to work then, IT too) is going to be a better week?


  13. Lori says:

    I had the AC Tightrope surgery after suffering a fall — it was “at least a grade 3” separation, according to my orthopedic surgeon. I had the surgery 3 weeks after my fall and it went well.

    Recovery has been incredibly painful. Dramatic stiffness, burning pain, knife-like scraping feeling under my skin at my shoulder.

    Apparently, all this is “normal.” – the ravages of soft tissue, nerves, bone. The shoulder is a complex place.

    My fear is to pop the buttons and I’m hoping this likelihood is vastly decreased with physio and after the 3 month mark.

    The great news is that so far my shoulder looks very normal — without the dramatic bump and shortening of the arm so many describe.

    For me, it’s been worth it. The recovery was worse than I expected and expensive, given physio is not covered. But I would not have wanted to leave it.

    There are several other techniques you can try that are more robust: such as the hook plate. But this surgery is least invasive and only requires the initial cut. The devise stays in place forever (at least I’m hoping so).

  14. Nick says:

    I was hit by a skier at 16 years old. I was hit in the ribs and fell on an outstretched arm. My entire collar bone was able to move after that. With overhead motions the entire collarbone would pop up. I went to about 4 orthapedics that all told me to wear a sling until it heals. Those orthapedics were some of the most unprofessional doctors I’ve ever seen. They should have known first hand that it was a grade 5 injury. Instead I worse a sling for about 6 months and then had sternoclavicular surgery because that’s where most of my pain was coming from. My clavical was compressed on an artery and it would change my breathing, color, and energy levels throughout the day. Meanwhile during the 6 months in the sling I still attended school. It got so bad to the point where I couldn’t put a back pack on my shoulders anymore. After surgery, I went to west Boca medical center for rehab. Most pathetic therapists I’ve ever seen in my life. I was a 17 year old kid who knew more about the body and these therapists. My first day in there a man worked me out and made me do strengthing exercises. When you have that severe of a surgery, you’re supposed to work on flexibility, range of motion, and swelling the first month. After that session, I was in more pain than after the surgery. He was making me push my arm up a chair at 70 degrees. I was not able to return for about two months. I basically limped out of there. My parents were forcing me to go after that when I explained the problem multiple times. I then went to my surgeon, who is the doctor of the New York giants and he suggested another physical therapist. I then went to a sports therapist they suggested. He cared so much about appointments, me being on time, and on other patients that were about 80 years old. I was probably the most injured person in there and he only gave me care for about a month. He then directed me to an intern that trained under him. Also I’m a kid and had no clue about the physical anatomy of the human body. As weeks went on she kept adding more and more weight meanwhile I looked exactly the same! I constantly brought up how much pain I was in, my restricted range of motion, and my ability to build muscle. Before my accident I was 165 solid at 5’9. I’m now 115 at the same height. I watched my body deteriorate and seeked help from dozens of people. The intern had me doing 30 pounds on a.machine as a rotator cuff workout. She was making me do that with my injured arm. I was 110 pounds and constantly complaining about my weight. I should’ve been given hgh through tht therapy. That is a workout for a healthy arm!!! She had no idea what she was doing and during that appointment my ac joint gave out. I was not given the proper care and that is the reason I’m still incapable of climbing a tree right now. I then went to a specialist and he told me that I’m better off leaving it alone considering mine movies in all directions instead of just up and down. He said there’s no physical treatment we have for an injury like that. I had 4.1 gpa my sophomore year and wasnt even able to attend my junior or senior year. So basically I’m considered a drop out. I still can’t swim in a pool. I still see otheapedics all over the U.S.
    Therapy is the most important part of surgery. And I didn’t have one therapist bring me in the pool and show me what I should be doing. I was alone. If I was excessively rich or famous, I would be healed right now. Worst thing about it all. They charged me 100$ everytime I went to therapy. I went for about 6 months 4 times a week. They got a fortune out of me

  15. Jesse says:

    Hey guys
    I’ve just separated my ACJ, did it 5 days ago, it’s graded a 3 but there are still ligaments holding
    The surgeon has left it completely up to me on wether to get surgery or not saying that there are pros and cons both ways.
    I went to a physio and they told me my rang of movement was really good for how recent my separation was, I’m a carpenter and use my shoulders, I am still not sure what on earth to do, they are professionals that leave it up to you but anything you suggest they reply by reminding you that you don’t know anything about shoulders.
    I tend to think well yeah that’s why I came to the bloke called an orthopedic surgeon who studied it for 4 bloody years.
    To no avail, it’s still my choice
    Given the need to get back to work, I am I need of the result that will be best for someone working very physically daily.
    Where I’m at in the decision atm is leave for period and then if surgery needed then go ahead.
    However due to my need to be at work that result (surgery after non op doesn’t work) would leave me a lot longer from bak at work then if I had jumped onto surgery straight away (and even that might fail)
    My query is why not cut to the chase and do surgery, if it fails at least your one step ahead.
    It’s just I’m not confident in the fact that ill be left with a unattached shoulder that’s at 80-90% and feel good at leaving it at that.

    Is there an option that gets you 100%
    No it doesn’t seem..
    I feel like I’d rather have got a 5-6 grade at least then I’d be told what to do not decide on something that changes you whole life if you stuff it up..
    I am lost as to what I should do
    I’ve read forum after forum and its not helping.
    I think I have to bunker down and see how things go.
    Is there anyone who has had a grade three and recovered to the point ( non surgically )
    Where wakeboard, surfing, footy etc sports are fine to do?

  16. Hunter says:

    I myself had a grade 3 separation with few ligaments still intact with my shoulder playing football. As too, my doctor left it up to me whether I have the surgery or not. He did say it wasn’t at all necessary and given that if your work on the muscles around the shoulder enough it should compensate to where you shouldn’t notice it. He also cited that NFL QB Drew Brees has both of his separated completely and never got them fixed. (Might be wrong on the QB). Nevertheless he said if it did continue to bother me or hamper any abilities it is an injury that can be repaired later on in the future, even though I assume you run the risk of losing some mobility or comfort.

    10 days after the incident I was cleared and played the following game with slight discomfort but did not take anything away from my abilities significantly. I dont know how much that translates into whether it could be a problem in carpentering or water sports. Also, it didnt hurt to take direct hits on the shoulder (with shoulder pads of course) if that adds anything.

    Nowadays it only feels uncomfortable when I am out of energy and my whole body more or less begins to ache, with the shoulder being noticeably more uncomfortable.

  17. Jesse says:

    Right now your my best mate haha
    First bit of info I’ve read which has helped
    It’s hard to know because it seems so hit and miss
    Was your shoulder still pretty sore when you played?
    Like dd you get the feeling that it didn’t have the strength in some positions?
    And did you have it strapped when you played?

    Plus would you have surgery later on if it begins to bother you ?
    Sorry about all the questions
    I’m just trying to be sure I make a good decision
    It’s fairly critical to my career to get my shoulder as good as possible.
    Thanks chief

  18. Rich says:

    I had a motorcycle accident and got operated 2 weeks later on july 10 with a class 5 shoulder reconstruction. I was in a sling for 6 weeks, 4 weeks of assisted stretching, 4 weeks of light therapy with 10lbs lifting and now I am the next and I believe final step of therapy with 20lbs. I go back to doc in 3 weeks to go back to work. It will be about 19 weeks. My shoulder hurts and I got no strength in a forward rotation and external rotation. Did anyone have a class 5, how long where you out of work and what is your percent of arm movement and lifting? When will I be back to normal.

  19. Jesse says:

    Hey does anyone know if it’s a good idea to go back to work (within the boundaries of pain) while I’m only 4 weeks out from surgery?
    I have full movement just some pain when moving across my chest and only about 80% strength ..
    I just don’t know if it makes it worse?
    Is it a case of the longer you leave it the better it will recover ?
    It’s just I went for a swim 3 weeks after and it made it sore and felt like I had done it again..
    And I don’t know if it’s a case of push through the pain and it’ll improve or not doing anything until pain free?

  20. brorob says:

    All, I empathise. I’m 46, fit and was very active – solid cycling, surfing, swimming. 12 months ago, I was doing 30kmh on my road bike and a car pulled into my path. I have a grade 3 AC separation and CC separation. Soft tissue damage from the crash kept me in pain for months. Ortho and physio recommended “conservative” (non-surgical) approach initially, saying I could opt for the surgery anytime later. (Indeed a mate of mine (cycling fall) had surgery 9 years later for a great AC and broken clavical repair result.) I had 6 months of weekly physio – ROM, stretches, bands, weights. 12 months out, I can say the injury has “stabilised” meaning I have no improving or deteriorating trend at present. But it is no where near what it was. i.e. I can do the same chin ups as before the injury, but I can only do 2 or 3 awkward painful push ups compared to sets of fifty before. Lifting a straight arm with moderate weight in front of me is a major issue. And I can not sleep on the injured side at all. Swimming is painful due to the colliding bones in the shoulder area, I suspect repeated activity like that may result in later osteoarthritis and scar tissue which will get in the way of later surgery. I can’t get the surgery option out of my head, and suspect I’ll be returning to my ortho for a consult on doing the surgery in the new year. Like many of you, they have given me the option rather than make a strong recommendation for surgery. I understand that the procedure is not insignificant, risks are real, and I’m not a labourer or tennis star, but I’m active and my muscularity, fitness and physical capabilty is deteriorating. My main question now is what can I expect with ageing if I go down either route?? Iterested in any direct experience o rqualified opinion. Cheers.

  21. adam says:

    Hello there!

    25 years old, controversial case, Grade III shoulder separation. I was told the same by a specialist, that ‘I can live with it’ or ‘proceed with the surgery’. When asked what he would do he said ‘he’s not my age’. After just a few moments I knew it was going to be surgery for me. It is not really a question, when something can be fixed don’t accept anything less. Sounds bad with the whole screw thing but it really isn’t. Of course quite painful in the first couple of days.

    One little piece of advice: Stay away from large amplifiers (rehearsals, concerts) in the following weeks!!!

  22. Jesse says:

    Hey people
    I have posted before.
    Thought I’d let you know how I went
    It’s been 6 weeks since my grade 3
    I’m a 20 yr old carpenter.
    I play all contact sport and surf, wakeboard, skate
    I wa told I could opt for sugery or go no operative.
    It’s a absolute bloody difficult decision
    And I know exactly how it feels
    Trying to decide on something you really have no idea about.
    But my opinion
    And case
    I seperated on a Sunday
    That night went to hospital
    In a sling for a week with a follow up that week
    Told I could go either way and had a day to decide, researched the hell out of it
    Which made it more and more cloudy
    Told doc I couldn’t make my mind up
    Went to a physio- good physio is an absolute goer
    Told me go for non operative
    My movement was above my head in 2 weeks I could lift and chin up.
    I had decided to give it a stab no op
    ( you’ll never know if it could get good without surgery if you do it straightaway)
    I’d suggest give it 2-3 see where your at non op do physio
    Get into physio religeously!!
    If your young and fit – your body will respond to you working it

    With surgery the possibility of failure and staple recovery, and recovery with arthritis ..
    Is high – the shoulder will always be a weak spot with or without surgery
    Work through the pain of non op !
    And you’ll be back to complete movement in 6 weeks!
    And if your not happy
    Get a reconstruction later you can get it done much later
    The thing with this injury is it’s unpredictable
    No one person is the same
    My suggestion give it 3 weeks complete rest
    Get a resistance band and 4 times a week take out of sling and get strengthening excercises from a physio
    In those 1st three weeks do as much as you can (PAIN FREE!!) avoid pain
    Once the 3 weeks is done
    Take out of sling and stap with rigid tape
    Continue work outs
    If not right in 6 weeks get surgery ten maybe

    If you do surgery
    Get a surgeon who is going to do it good
    Be clear ask questions
    Go to a specialist !! Make sure his good
    But my suggestion AVOID SURGERY!!
    Recovery sucks and it could fail
    It’s either a scar and 90% shoulder
    Or a bump and 90% shoulder

    Good luck people THIS INJURY SUCKS

  23. Zsirfnut says:

    I had a fall from a push bike 6 weeks ago and suffered a grade 3 seperation . Due to other injuries it was 4 days later before I could see a specialist and was then told I was probably better off not having an op as I should get my strength back in time and that there was no guarantee an op would be successful as they are finding a lot of shoulders drop again after the plate is removed. As an 4 day a week surfer my main priority was to get back in the water ASAP an my “lump” appeared to be settling down to some degree. 2 more weeks went by and I decided to get a second opion as the “lump” was not getting any better as I had thought and I really couldn’t see my strength and movement getting back to what I wanted . The second specialist called if a grade 5 and said it should of been operated from the start and hence booked me straight in for an op which was then done exactly 4 weeks after the inititial accident . After reading these forums I was concerned that the op had been left too long but was assured it wouldn’t be a problem. Let me say it hurt like hell , I had double the normal morphine and then had to have that nasty drug ketamine to keep me from rolling around on the surgery . There’s not much worse than having an outer body experience and seeing yourself die but then coming to the realisation you might be dead but how come it still hurts soo much .its now 10 days since the op and although the surfing is still a distant dream , I do feel a slight improvement most days , although today is not one of them . I have an appointment today to see the specialist for the first time since the op , so will keep you posted.

  24. Zsirfnut says:

    I saw the surgeon yesterday that explained my op had not gone well as I had already healed so much in the month prior and it took 3 attempts at removing the scarring and trying to force it back in position to fit the plate . He did say that due to this there is now the possibility it will not heal the 100% as hoped although this really won’t be known for 4 months when the plate is removed . When asked when I could get back to surfing , he said forget that idea until the plate is removed as the consequences of the plate dislodging are not worth the risk . I just checked the recording I made with him prior to the op and was told then 1 to 2 months but it “might” be uncomfortable whilst the plate is still in . In fairness to him he also stated that all surgery is a risk and I could live with the deformity .
    In sumary , time will tell if it was worth the pain and anxiety and a 6″ scar , if I could of had the op done before the healing started , then Im sure it would be a different story . I hope this story helps somebody and by the way I am a 54 year old 6’2″ lean and very fit male.

  25. Durden says:

    At age 29 I suffered a 3-4 stage right shoulder separation from a snow ski fall in Boone NC. Ortho doc in ER said it’s a common injury that could be treated by the Munford Procedure that involved taking tendons from wrist and “tying” them around repair job that involved a screw insert. OR, I could live with it but that I would probably have some arthritis issues 20 years down the road. Within a month from the 20 year mark here it comes…out of the blue arthritis type pain. Gradual at first with a noticeable increase in pain and movement restriction over a 3 month period. I’m a professional drummer and it’s seriously affecting my play ability ? enjoyment. I turn 50 in a few weeks and the thought of surgery more than blows my groove on multiple levels.
    I’m just doing light weights at gym, stretches and message.

    Anyone out there gone many years untreated then had surgery?

  26. Tim says:

    I suffered a grade 3-4 separation over 12 months ago mountain biking (down the death road, Bolivia fittingly) and had surgery within 4 weeks back in Australia. I too was given the option, but like others have mentioned if it can be fixed I want it fixed. I’m also an IT guy and pretty active. Surfing, Cycling, Gym etc.

    The procedure used was the tight rope procedure. I was offered the hook plate but as it was 2 operations decided to go for the tight rope. The position of the collar bone post op was great, no sign of a bump but after 3 months I was throwing balls with the kids and throwing them into the pool. I probably should have looked after it better but I didn’t realise how slowly this injury heals.

    Anyway the collarbone sprang up again and 12 months after the initial injury I had surgery again. This time using the weaver dunn procedure, synthetic implant and screw I think. Again it looked great post surgery, no visible bump but much more painful recovery the 2nd time around.

    After 4 weeks I did something really stupid. I picked up a bag of fertiliser weight 25 Kgs. I thought I could carry all the weight with my good arm and just use my injured arm (still in a sling) to guide it. I didn’t feel anything at the time but that evening and for the next week my shoulder hurt like hell. I couldn’t see any visual signs the implant had failed but I started physio soon after this and after a few weeks the collar bone had risen up a bit. Not as bad as pre op but it worries me and after 3 months it is still pretty sore.

    Is this to be expected? The doctor said I would have a bit of bump. Have others been left with a bump after surgery?

  27. Brian says:


    Sorry to hear you’ve had continued problems with the shoulder. I had a modified Weaver Dunn, but it was all done anatomically (donor tendon from leg). I’m 12 months out from surgery now and I can safely say most of my bump is gone. However, there is a 3 inch scar going straight down from my shoulder now — and there is a slight bump (prob 20% of what it was)

    There were several moments where I thought i overexerted myself — arm in sling — just like you. But I was under the impression that while it was important for me to keep the arm still, it wasn’t THAT fragile.

    Anyways, I hope you’re alright. It would be a shame to require a 3rd surgery especially such a brutal one on your shoulder

    good luck!

  28. Tim says:

    Thanks Brian,

    That’s comforting to know.

    I would say that my bump is about 50% of what it was. I figured because the end of the collarbone was lopped off it’s not as big as it would be otherwise.

    However it does feel stable and I have also had the same injury to the other shoulder 15 years ago. They just wrapped tape around that to reduce the dislocation and it has a bigger bump than the recently injured one. I have symmetrical scars and bumps. 🙂

    Yes it would not be pleasant to have to go through this a 3rd time.


  29. Adam says:

    I just had the Bosworth screw removed after 6 weeks. I feel very good now. I still recommend the operation.

  30. Curtis says:

    Hey everyone.

    Just thought I would add my experience to the board since so many others have.

    Fell while snowboarding in 2010. First doctor misdiagnosed me as a grade 3. Said to let it heal and be conservative.

    Well, I did that. And it didn’t work. I never came close to the “90% strength” some have mentioned on here. I lived with the injury for a few years and hated it.

    Finally decided to get it fixed. I did a lot of research on doctors and found a good one here in Boise Idaho. I had the surgery on Dec. 4 of this year (2013) and so far the recovery is going well. I can already tell it is better. The numbness in my hand is gone and it feels stronger everyday. I have to be in a sling for 6-8 weeks but it isn’t so bad.

    To answer some of the questions I see on here.

    1. Should I have surgery? Well, there is no easy answer to this. It is a case-by-case basis. I tried the no surgery route and it didn’t work. My surgeon told me that my grade was easily a 4 to a 4+ and the first doctor was flat out wrong. So by all means get a second, third and fourth opinion. I visited 4 surgeons before I got a good feel for Dr. Goodwin.

    2. Can you have surgery late on? Even years after the injury? The answer to this is yes. I am proof of that.

    3. How do I know if I need surgery? You won’t and you won’t find the answer on the internet. You need someone who knows what they are doing to look at it.

    Hope that helps. Be positive and stay strong.


  31. jerry says:

    hi all, i figure id state my experience if anyone happens to come across it, i had grade 3 ac seperation from being cut off by a car riding a bicycle, as i laid on my back i knew my shoulder was messed, i tried a tuck and roll but landed too directly on my shoulder wearing a backpack, i sat up and ripped my shirt off (button up) the collar bone was lifted pretty high and when i rolled my arm it sounded like a creaky door and it popped into place my friend almost vomited. my arm went numb and would fall out of place, surprisingly the pain was not to bad while in its natural position but if i let it hang immediately a knife was sawing, i was able to sit on my bike and keep wieght on it and it kept the shoulder all in place, after xray i decided not to do surgery and did my best to aid its recovery, i did my best to not let the joint separate,(wrapped ace bandage and taped it) but i got too confident to fast,reinjuring it, after i learned the shifting of my shoulder was not fixable after a month i just whent into range of motion and light areobic, i remember doing random shadowboxing and out of nowhere i could not lift my arm to throw a punch, would subside overnight and be normal, i learned doing handstand pushups (feet against wall) was the best strengthening after it healed for the most part and i could swim decently, i feel good many years later i was 18, now 25 i have reinjured it a few times in crashes and it healed fine as the joint is flexible, and was never as bad as initial injury. took about a year to have it get to a point where i can abuse it and not injure it, in between it was moody, i can throw over hand have great flexibility but over hand throws are not as powerful as they were and i kind of have different throwing mechanics to make up for it, i will say the positive is im abusive to my body, downhill mountain biker bmx type, throw in a little free runner and ive really landed on it hard to the point i feel if it was ‘mended’ or normal that impact right there would have seperated it, but ill bounce back to near normal after. whats strange is my shoulder blade ‘floats’ if i use my good hand to move it around it moves whereas the good side is anchored.

  32. Sam says:

    Hello everyone,

    Just wanted to share my experiences of the injury and my resultant surgeries to hopefully shed some light on the whole thing for people.

    Just over 3 years ago I separated my shoulder freestyle skiing as I was doing a season over in Europe (I live in the UK), the pain was horrible at the time and I never want to experience that feeling again. But, I was back skiing (carefully) within a month after the doc told me a could have surgery when I got home. You can go back to normal life with rehab….. If you’re happy living with a mild handicap for the rest of your life…. I wasn’t happy with how weak my shoulder was post injury, it looked bad ass (sickly to some people), but it was getting me down. I’m too active for this to slow me down and I needed to sort it.

    I got home almost a year later. (With a big lovely bump on my right shoulder and an aching arm that constantly felt loose. As a pretty fit person it started to make me feel very trapped and depressed daily.)

    I ended up rushing into the Weaver Dunn procedure on the NHS as I just wanted it sorted. I had the op and was in immense pain immediately, movement slowly crept back and pain subsided but my scar began to open up due to my body not liking the temporary steel hook plate that was on my collar bone. Although the wound was tested negatively for infection, the NHS still insisted on two washout operations to help the would heal. The wound didn’t heal, it was open for 4 months, it was absolutely horrible. Oh and showering was a nightmare…. I had to use clingfilm every day.

    Neither of the wash outs worked and the plate ended up having to come out early (4 months as opposed to 6).

    And so, after extensive rehab and with a huge nasty looking scar, my shoulder was absolutely amazing again for a year and a half and it SEEMED for a while as if my shoulder was sorted.

    But…… low and behold… it’s dropped off again, basically the operation failed. I have more pain daily and I’m now worse off than before my operation. Yes, my surgeon was crap, he didn’t listen to me and just wanted to rush me through the system and get home to his mediocre upper class life. That’s the problem with the NHS, there’s no incentive to actually fix the person; only to hit the targets and keep the government happy. I had to re-explain my problem to each new face I was passed between, it’s a fucking wonder they operated on the correct side shoulder to be honest. Bless the NHS, they try (albeit not very hard).

    Anyway, I know that something needed to be done about my shoulder as I’m now in more pain than ever now that its gone back to how it was. So I went to a private consultant (actually funded by the NHS) who I knew would look after me better.

    The consultant told me that he would never have done the Weaver Dunn in the first place. It fails, a lot. So where was he 3 years ago! I am now scheduled to go in for the Surgilig Lockdown which involves using a prosthetic ligament from my coracoid to my clavical with a screw. It’s a permanent solution and I’m feeling more positive about it than I have in 3 years.

    If anyone is interested I will post you my post op thoughts in around 3 months

    In general this injury seems to be massively overlooked by the medical bods. Sufferers like me will tell you, this is a mild handicap. There is no day that isn’t affected by my injury, I get aches down my spine, down my arm. I can’t train even half as much as used to, and I wouldn’t dream of touching a weight with it at the moment…. Though we’ll see after the Lockdown.

    Don’t have the Weaver Dunn surgery if you’re active, I’m not saying that it WILL fail, but the chances are that it will. My doc told me it would take a car crash to separate my shoulder again, and all I did was a bit of over training and I’m back to square one.

  33. Aaron says:

    Hi all

    It’s 1 week after my grade 3 ac joint seperation and I have just met with a shoulder ortho specialist. I’m a very physically active 37 year old male. My hands and arms are my livelyhood as I roast and make coffee. I live in Brisbane Australia and this particular surgeon has looked after hundreds of professional athletes NRL/ARU/Cricket/Olympic etc etc so I trust his judgement and skill. The problem is I’m now in more doubt than ever as to proceed with surgery. The Dr basically left the decision up to me as to whether I proceed with surgery or not. This seems to be the case with most people on this forum at least.
    He said this was always surgery up until the 1980s when more research was done and it was found that after 12 months post op or no op the results in mobility/strength/function were basically the same. Even though he left the decision up to me he did say if it were his son he would not recommend surgery. Given his expertise and the fact that he’s taking money from his pockets by not recommending surgery I’m kind of inclined to go this way, whereas prior to today’s consultation I was gung-ho to get it fixed and over and done with.

    The pros and cons appear to be thus:
    Pro Surgery
    Removes significant lump
    May have slightly better mobility
    Con Surgery
    Risk of infection
    Long and painful recovery time
    Replace lump with scar
    May not have any change in mobility
    May have surgical complications
    Surgical technique may fail
    Almost guarantee of Arthritis at later time

    Pro No Surgery
    Opposite to all cons above
    Con No Surgery
    Have to put up with massive lump on shoulder
    May have reduced mobility

    This is a lot to weigh up at the moment, especially when I’m in this initial stage of pain and torture. My wife isn’t enjoying all the extra work looking after me either.

    I’d appreciate any and all feedback both post op and no op from those in similar circumstances. My situation does sound similar to that of Jesse as posted above. Would love to hear how you’re getting on.

    Either way it sounds like one of those injuries where you’re shit out of luck for the rest of your life and you have to learn to just grin and bear it.

  34. Brian says:


    If your surgeon is saying he wouldn’t recommend for his own son to have the procedure it looks like your next choice is to get a second opinion. Based off that one opinion though, I wouldn’t recommend surgery, but without all the details, it’s hard to say.

    I waited ten years after a grade 5 separation. My mobility and strength were normal after a few months initially – and all was good until I began lifting weights and exercising on a daily basis. That’s when I noticed the decade old injury was hindering my progress. Then I tore my labrum and got it looked at. Doc recommended an AC reconstruction (modified weaver Dunn) in addition to the slap procedure for the labrum.

    I’m 15 months past my operation now and it’s been a looooong road to this point. If you opt for the surgery, make sure your mind is right, clear your schedule, and become as patient as possible.

  35. Christopher V says:

    Hey guys,

    I had AC join surgery post grade V separation and the classic “bump” is still noticeable.

    There is clear improvement post surgery, but I paid $10,000 to get my joint repaired; is this normal?

    I couldn’t care less about the bump, I just hope I’m healing properly.

    -Chris V

  36. Curtis says:

    Hey Chris V,

    My surgeon explained to me that even after surgery, there will be a bump. Similar in appearance to a Grade 2. I had the surgery and still have a small bump (hardly noticeable compared to what I had) so yes, I think your healing is going correctly.


  37. Gen says:

    I injured my shoulder in 1998, had surgery in 1999, 2001; 2014. All 3 surgeries did not work. Now, after living with this for over 15 u years, it is worse and numbness is a major problem. Still in major pain, luckily I have full range of motion, bot no load bearing. Now I am stumping the docs on what to do.

  38. Lian says:

    My accident occurred on the last of 2013. A direct fall on my right shoulder that tore the collarbone
    completely away from the shoulder. I was diagnosed with a grade III (aggravated?). I had CT scan, x-rays
    and eventually an MRI, all showed the same complete separation.

    I was not happy about this situation as I use my arm in my work to lift and thread heavy hoses
    in all manner of positions, angles, and heights, for a significant part of my day. I also work alone.

    My Dr. advised I was in the 50/50, surgery/or no surgery, category, and advised against it.

    I’m at three months now without surgery. The first two weeks were quite painful and I basically sat
    around on the couch taking acetaminophen and codeine. The next two weeks I would occasionally take
    an Advil for the pain, but mostly I just soldiered thru the twinges and aches.

    I’m at three months now and have complete range of motion in the injured soldier. I still have some
    slight pain, and there is always a constant sensation of pressure and pulling, but not enough to
    require any medication.

    I went for PT last week and during the initial exam the therapist said I had excellent range of motion,
    AND THEN, he put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to move it around. He gave me a funny look,
    then called his boss over to have a look. They both agreed I had a level 4 or 5 separation. Then they
    said they I didn’t need therapy, I needed surgery. Anyway, that’s over a week ago. The rehab center
    cancelled my (3 times a week) therapy, and I haven’t been back or heard from anyone since.

    I feel rather useless now…

    Any type of throwing motion brings instant pain that can last awhile. Even tossing the car keys
    to a friend hurts. But other than that (and lifting something heavy) there is nothing really distressing
    the shoulder now. I still don’t sleep on it because it causes numbness in my hand and arm, but that’s
    about it.

    My injury was “on the job” so it is a work-comp case, and as such is nearly completely out of my
    hands. I was put on light-duty and returned to work three weeks after the fall–doing almost
    nothing and certainly not generating any revenue for the company.

    Anyway, that’s my experience for anyone that cares to compare theirs to mine, or that is just
    looking for information on what they may expect after their injury.

    It seems weird that to live the rest of your life with your collar-bone separated from
    your shoulder–especially in this day and age of “run of the mill” hip and knee replacements,
    but I fear that is what is in store for my future…I guess I can give up my dreams of one day
    becoming an arm-wrestling champion—oh wait…I’ve still got my left arm I guess. So I
    suppose there is a bright side.

  39. Stephen says:

    My separated shoulder was grade 3 and occurred nearly 3 months ago in a fall. Yes, there is a large bump deformity of the shoulder, most visible when the shoulder is moved forward and diminishing as the shoulder is pulled back. I did not undertake a formal rehab program, but gradually returned to my normal activity. After 3 months, I’d say my shoulder is 90-95% back to normal. Still some odd popping sensations at times, but these continue to diminish.

    I am a recreational backpacker and archer, and I took my shoulder on a 25 mile backpacking trip last weekend with no real problems or ill effects. I can carry my (20#) backpack without any shoulder pain. I can also now draw my 40# Asian bow with no pain and can shoot as well as ever. I draw the bow with my injured left arm.

    I had a rotator cuff injury on the other (right) shoulder 10 years ago, which took much longer to heal, but eventually faded into the past so that it never bothers me. The body does have an amazing ability to heal and compensate for injury.

  40. Stephen says:

    I should mention, I am a 66 year old man with a desk job, and not overweight.

  41. Brandon says:

    Great thread to have stumbled upon. I have ridden racehorses every morning for 25 years and have had many falls resulting in many injuries, mostly minor. 5 years ago a horse stumbled, fell over and threw me over its head. I instantly thought I had broken my collarbone and went to ER swearing like a sailor. Now I wish I had broken it. I was diagnosed with a grade 3 ac joint separation and like the rest of you was referred to an ortho who gave mw the same PT, see how it goes advice.
    It took 6 weeks to get back to work but I was still uncomfortable and should’ve waited. It seemed to improve slowly for 12-18 months. Now it just has a minor ache now and then and is fairly stable. I find that the ‘bump’ is the biggest psychological hurdle even though I’m sure no one else notices it. I find myself looking in the mirror to see if it stands out and some days it seems to and other days it doesn’t. I won’t wear some shirts because they seem to accentuate it.
    Then again I think I should be grateful that I didn’t break my neck and end up in a wheelchair but it is a very frustrating injury. I have enjoyed reading all your posts and feel like I now belong to a select club.

  42. Bradan says:

    I am a 19 year old male who played hockey for 15+ years. Oddly enough, I was told by a PT that I had done some kind of damage to my left shoulder in the ac joint. I am now an aspiring bodybuilder and have had a fair share of musclular imbalances to deal with. I lift weights regularly, and recently had to go to PT to help build stability into my left non-dominant-injuried shoulder. PT has been going very well for me, and before I started bodybuilding I felt fine doing regular day activity and weight-lifting. I did notice a lot of problems did start occuring after I got my left pec tightened from overtraining. I didn’t feel much, or it wasn’t much for me, as I was born with a high pain tolerence. (Hence, why maybe I didn’t feel the shoulder injury when it happened, my guess is that it was probably from hockey, considering I was more of an aggressive player (Loved hitting, overall a rough player). I took pictures of my back and front from when I had nothing before B.B. and noticed I had very little left delt development, which I always assumed was because I did everything with my right arm, shot righty, and played 14+ years of baseball throwing righty. My PT reccommended not to get surgery for it, as it wasn’t a big deal, I was only diagnosed with instability of the left arm. My rotator cuff is now much stronger and equal or stronger than the right dominant arm. I can live with the very small bump on my left shoulder. I had people look at it and said it really wasn’t even noticable, maybe 1-1.5cm higher than the other side. My question for you people is should I go get it looked at by an orthopidic surgeon anyways? Please give me some feedback ASAP. THank you!

  43. chris says:

    Well man, a PT isn’t an orthopedic surgeon. It’s always best to get it looked at. It seems like you have a low grade separation though and will not require surgery. I would imagine at this point doing surgery would only be cosmetic but then you’ll have scarring

  44. Lian says:

    If you’ve got the money and the time a doctor’s opinion is always preferable to
    advice from an internet forum. But it sound to me as though you have nothing to
    worry about. As far as you rotator cuff injury, I don’t know–that injury is much
    more complex than an ac joint separation, so if you’re still worried about it
    check with a doctor.

    Many people with ac separations live regular lives with no problems, and those
    with partial separations (type 1 and 11) aren’t even candidates for surgery.

    Yours sounds like a type 1 or 11 with only a partial tear and that will heal
    within a few months leaving only a small bump.

    You have a type 111 separation if your shoulder complex moves independently
    of the collarbone. Just scrunch your shoulder forward and back. If the “bump”
    moves with the shoulder and you feel no pain, you’re probably ok. If the shoulder
    can move back and forth and the collarbone remains stationary you should
    definitely get checked out.

    BTW to the forum…I finally was ok’ed for surgery. This after six months of waiting
    and rehab. Can’t wait to have my arm back up to par…

  45. Richie says:

    Not actually sure what this site is for, however I have been searching up and down on AC joint separations as I believe I have/had one and I’ve managed to find these posts! After a heavy gym workout I went home with no pain or discomfort to suddenly have a dead arm and a lump in my shoulder. Everyday for a week it got less and less painful, however I still can feel it is awkward at times. Although ALMOST painless I have now noticed it constantly clicks when moving my arms in certain ways, for example the motion of front crawl when I swim. Even worse is if I extend my arms straight above my head so that my biceps are next to my ears my left side completely pops! I am so worried about the joint wearing down, I still have a lump in the shoulder which is the least of my concerns now. I really don’t want this to progress and get worse but I have a bad feeling I’ll end up with arthitis if I continue exercising, which I am in no way going to stop for the rest of my life! Going to the doctors in the next couple of hours, I’ll report back and hope everybody else has healed up well!

  46. Andrew says:

    Some of you guys have had much worse AC injuries than me, but for the sake of adding to the database this page is becoming, here is how I screwed up my shoulder:
    I am 49 and am pretty active, despite having a teaching job and work on a PhD that has kept me practically nailed to a desk the last four years. I used to cycle a lot or go hiking on weekends, like up Mt. Whitney or in Yosemite, but now I have been restricted to gym exercise because I no longer live near any mountains. I had gotten in the habit of doing chinups on a wooden beam every time I went past a certain stair in my house and would do quite a lot of these over the course of a day. I also had a 10KG dumbbell sitting next to my compute for curls and other exercises. On the day I hurt my shoulder, i had done a lot of chinups and had been fooling around with the dumbbell. Instead of curls, I was holding it out in front of me, lifting straight up, and other things like at. Then, after seeing a movie with my wife, I yanked on a “do not pull” door. It stayed right where it was and I ripped my AC ligaments.

    I don’t think it would have ripped if not for the exercises I had been doing that day, but the actual injury happened at the door. Not as exciting as crashing on a bike, but that’s what happened. It hurt quite a bit when it happened and it seemed like there was something seriously wrong, but by the time I got home, the pain had subsided. The next day I saw a big reddened bump on my shoulder. I knew that couldn’t be right, so I did some research on the Internet. This told me it was a class III injury. I went to a chiropractor right away, who tested my ROM. The odd thing is that after the initial pain when it ripped, I felt no pain at all regardless what the chiropractor did to the shoulder. I was thinking this might be because of all the Yoga I have done, which makes me pretty flexible. The chiropractor said that the AC ligaments might have stretched suddenly or torn slightly but that they hadn’t torn all the way through. Otherwise, she said I wouldn’t have the range of motion I had. She said it was really weird to have the large bump without a complete tear, but thought my ligaments were flexible enough to twist out of the way when my clavicle turned out of joint.

    She said I shouldn’t get surgery, which was backed up by another chiropractor. I kind of wanted surgery because the bump really bothers me. It is a permanent sign that there is something not right in my shoulder. Also, unlike some of the people here, I keep reinjuring it. There is never any serious pain, but the bump well get red and hurt a little if I do a chinup or any one of a number of other overhead motions. Then I let it rest, the slight pain is gone quickly, and i am left with the bump. The problem is that now, about two months later, I am worried that I am getting out of shape because I am so worried about making the injury worse that I am avoiding exercise. That is why I came to this forum, to see what surgery is like. From what I’ve read, I don’t think it’s a good idea for my injury because it clearly isn’t as bad as it was for others, and some of the posters here who did need it, were ill-served by the surgery.


  47. Kurt says:

    I separated mine 30 years ago when a woman in a car cut in front of me while I was riding my bicycle. I hit her then spun around and hit my shoulder on the pavement. Got diagnosed with type 3 separation of left shoulder. I’m right handed. Doc said I didn’t need surgery. 8 weeks after the separation I could bench press, do chin-ups and a pretty good weightlifting routine. It never got to 100% better though. Overhead motions made it ache afterwards. But I was not a rock climber. Every once in a while it would get very painful and I had to rest for a few weeks before using it much. One time it was just because a sadistic little female physical therapist yanked it really hard when I was in PT for my back. I had to rest for a solid 3 weeks and it took 6 months before I could do a chin-up again. After that my ROM was not as good, but I still did not even talk to a surgeon.

    Then 4 years ago it started to get worse. I had to even change the way I put my coat on. Reaching behind my back with the left hand made it hurt very badly. I started doing more rotator cuff exercises and started putting my coat on left hand first. It wasn’t too bad after that. Not great, but not so bad that I would go though surgery. I was having to have 3 surgeries on my bad foot during that time anyway.

    Then 3 months ago for no apparent reason it began hurting unbearably. I can’t do ANYTHING. As soon as I get out of bed it starts hurting. After about 4-6 hours it hurts so much that I have to lay down. Vicodin doesn’t even help. I had to take percocet to get through the MRI and even that didn’t kill the pain. It was almost as bad as the kidney stone I had. I’m totally disabled now and the MRI shows no tears in the rotator cuff or anything else that can be fixed. I had 3 cortisone shots and have done 3 months of PT but the pain is still so bad that I am in bed 20 hours a day. No one has any answer. I found one doc who said reattaching the collarbone might help by stabilizing the shoulder. I’ve talked to 3 surgeons and that’s the only option I have been given. Now I wish I had never even ridden a bicycle.

  48. BillyD says:

    Greetings everyone:
    I am a 72 year old active male and suffered an AC Joint injury on June 3, 2014. ER doctor said it was a type III. Went to my own MD the following day. After more x-rays he said it was a type II. Surgery was never an option and I went on day 3 to a Physical Therapist and began treatment. The shoulder bump is there and will be from here on. The clicking is moderate but is slowly becoming less. I have been released by the PT and am now working out on my own. I begin with 45 degree push ups then go to lat pull downs, wide and narrow grips. Narrow grips are done palm in and out. Next I do seated back flys on cable machine and then do pec flys. I move to tricep pull downs on machine. Dumbbell curls are next which are followed by over head tricep extensions. I go to a bench and do one handed dumbbell pulls replicating a sawing motion. Both left and right. On a 33 degree bench I do two hand pull overs from behind my head to across my chest with a 45# dumbbell. I close out my session doing shoulder shrugs. This entire routine takes about 45 minutes. The weight I use is moderate which allows me to complete 15 to 20 repetitions.
    I do this every other day and can notice the injury is healing very well. ROM is very good and any pain extremely minimal and becoming less noticeable. It is now July 29th and I feel that I am progressing very well toward being totally active once again. BTW… I fell off my mountain bike on my way to the gym when the injury occurred.
    So if this OLD guy can heal without surgery on a Type II separation….. Surely, you young bucks can live through it also. Oh yea… I’m retired and love to live.

  49. Kurt says:

    Give it a few years Bill. After years of the collarbone rubbing against the acromion and the cartilage in there the pain can get really bad. And you may have to wait MONTHS for surgery. I may have to wait until October after going to the doc and complaining about unbearable pain in April. I can’t even mow my lawn this summer. Nothing but almost total bed rest ALL SUMMER.

  50. lee williams says:

    Hi readers,
    I suffered a grade 4 separation in May (fell off a bike in an Ironman race). Bummer. NHS no use, said; ‘it’ll heal, but you’ll never be able swim like you used to’. I’m a 49 year old male, highly competitive. I’m no oil painting, but I’m vain enough to consider the bump unacceptable and the thought of not being able to swim competitively also unacceptable. So I sought a good surgeon, raided the piggy bank and got a modified weaver dunn, done…
    the recovery has been very, very slow. After 4 weeks I still couldn’t use a knife and fork. But 6 weeks after the op it’s coming on leaps and bounds. Just did my first 50Km cycle ride today. bit slow on hills, bit delicate on bumps and pot holes, but otherwise OK. Going to try riding my motorcycle tomorrow. And a nice long (ish) run. biggest issue seems to be the muscle spasms, ice, stretch, ice, warm-up stretch, exercise. i’m months (at least) from swimming or MTB, but I think that i can do most other stuff now.

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