Treatment of Acromioclavicular joint arthrosis
Acromioclavicular (AC) joint arthrosis is a common degenerative disorder that can lead to pain and difficulty during everyday use of the shoulder. The acromion is the part of the scapula that makes up the roof of the shoulder; it connects with the clavicle at the AC joint. In this condition, there is a weak attachment at this joint, causing grinding and pain. In addition, the AC joint is particularly prone to the development of osteoarthritis during middle age. This condition contributes to its onset.
The AC joint can be injured in a fall or by a hyperextension of the shoulder. Also, activities such as weightlifting, which place excess stress on the joint in a difficult overhead position, can lead to AC joint arthrosis. Young weightlifters are particularly susceptible. Degeneration of the condition can lead to intensified pain even years after the injury has “healed.”
What are the symptoms of acromioclavicular joint arthrosis?
During the early stages, AC joint arthrosis usually manifests itself with tenderness and pain in the front of the shoulder around the joint. The pain gets worse when the arm is extended across the chest as this motion compresses the joint, or when lifting. A vague pain may be felt in the shoulder, the neck and the front of the chest. The affected joint may also be disproportionate to the uninjured joint, and may snap or click when used.
Traditional pain management for AC joint arthritis and arthrosis
The usual treatment for this injury is a figure-eight splint to keep the joint immobile while the healing process occurs. While the initial immobilization may relieve pain, weakening of the ligaments will occur if the immobilization continues indefinitely. Physical therapy and an exercise program may restore strength and function to the shoulder, but the injured ligaments may continue to grind, pop, click and cause pain, especially with overhead activities and when reaching across the chest. Because these activities put strain on the ligaments, the surrounding muscles may go into spasm and become chronically painful, inhibiting the ability of the patient, often an athlete, from using the shoulder normally. The result? The modern medicine approach does not do anything to repair the deteriorated cartilage in the shoulder and, thus, does not alleviate the chronic pain that people with this condition experience.
Another standard practice of modern medicine is to inject steroids into the shoulder or to prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. However, in the long run, these treatments do more damage than good. Cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to produce short-term pain benefit, but both result in long-term loss of function and even more chronic pain by actually inhibiting the healing process of soft tissues and accelerating cartilage degeneration. This is often the case in patients who have had numerous cortisone shots by an orthopedic surgeon and told that eventually they will need a shoulder replacement surgery. However, in our experience, this type of surgery is avoidable. For patients who have already been through any type of shoulder surgery and still having pain or instability symptoms, a consultation outside of a surgeon’s office needs to be considered, particularly with a Prolotherapy specialist. Based on physical exam and reports such as X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound, a Prolotherapy specailist can determine if you are a good candidate for Prolotherapy, the best solution to use for the treatment (such as Stem Cell therapy, dextrose, PRP, etc..), as well as the estimated number of treatments needed to get you back to where you want to be.
A better treatment for acromioclavicular joint pain: Prolotherapy
Comprehensive dextrose Prolotherapy and a rehabilitation program can strengthen the ligaments and dynamic shoulder stabilizers (rotator cuff muscles). Chronic pain is most commonly due to tendon and ligament weakness or cartilage deterioration, as is the case in acromioclavicular joint syndrome. Prolotherapy is a regenerative injection treatment, which is what degenerated structures need. In our office, the shoulder is one of the most common areas we treat. In addition, we have published scientific articles and studies on our results, this includes shoulder pain, glenoid labrum tears, arthritis and more. You can see all of our studies at AboutProlotherapy.com.