AC Joint Dislocations

Dislocations of the AC joint (Acromio-Clavicular Joint) can occur at any age and are usual as a result of a fall, sporting injury or accident.  Most dislocations can be managed in a broad arm sling while more serious dislocations may require surgery.

Trauma Surgeons at Victorian Bone and Joint Specialists will assess your injury and organise x-rays and scans if required. If surgery is needed, our specialists will help guide you through the process as a successful outcome will require recovery and rehabilitation often with physiotherapists close to your home location in Melbourne.

A small change in position (subluxation) of the AC joint, while painful, will normally heal well. If surgery is not required for your AC joint dislocation  then surgeons at Victorian Bone and Joint Specialists may organise for a sling to help hold the shoulder high and in place. Follow up x-rays will normally be required. Sometimes x-rays of the uninjured side will help surgeons understand what is normal for you.

VBJS Patella Xray

A broad arm sling is fitted, this holds the weight of the arm allowing the AC joint to heal.

If AC has separated too much or if the joint unstable or causing issues with the skin, then surgery to lock the joint back in place may be the best option. Your surgeon at Bone and Joint will discuss this with you.


VBJS Patella Xray
Dislocated AC joint
Surgery to hold the AC joint in place

Once fixed, you  can begin to gently move the shoulder under the instruction of your surgeon. Placing weight through the arm will depend on the type of fracture you have and how it has been fixed. With this plate in you will need physiotherapy to help you with movements which are generally restricted until the plate can be removed (3 months after surgery)

There are risks with surgery. These include infection, delayed healing or no healing of the bone. Because the collar bone is so close to the skin, surgery to remove plate and screws maybe required once the bone has healed. Damage to nerve or blood vessels may have occurred as a result of the injury or when fixing the fracture. This plate will need to be removed after the joint has healed – normally after 3 months. Physiotherapy will be undertaken once the plate ahs been removed.  Your surgeon will discuss the recovery with you at your consultation.