The acromioclavicular joint, or more commonly called the AC joint, is the joint where the collarbone or clavicle and the scapula (large bone behind the shoulder) meet.
An AC joint sprain happens when the collarbone and scapula separate from each other.
What are the common causes of an AC Joint Sprain?
One of the most common causes of sprain in this area is falling onto your shoulders, especially when your arms are outstretched. This type of injury is common among athletes who play a high-contact sport. This includes hockey, football, or rugby players. Some cyclists that fall over may also experience this type of injury.
How is the severity of an AC joint sprain classified?
Type I. The AC ligament has a slight tear while the CC ligament is intact.
Type II. The AC ligament is torn with a minimal to no tear in the CC ligament.
Type III. The AC and the CC ligament are torn. The collarbone is separated from the shoulder blade.
What are the symptoms of an AC Joint Sprain?
The symptoms of having AC sprain include experiencing pain when:
- Lying on your sprained shoulder
- Reaching for something overhead
- Pain when moving your arm across your body
How do you treat an AC Joint Sprain?
Grade I and II AC joint sprains won’t require surgery. Treatment can range from putting ice on the shoulder, making use of a sling, and taking pain killers to manage the pain. Some also make use of kinesiology tape to provide support and stability in the area.
For more severe cases, like type III AC joint sprain, we recommend going to the doctor.
What’s the taping protocol for an AC Joint Sprain?
- Prepare four I-strips kinesiology tapes that you’ve measured for the affected area. Make sure to round the edges to make the k-tape stay on longer.
Use high-quality gum-free scissors for hassle-free cutting! ;) If you are new to taping and not so comfortable about cutting your tapes yet, you can opt for the Tape Geeks' Pre-cut kinesiology tapes.
- Put the patient’s arm in a resting position. Get your first strip and put it on the anchor point with 0% tension. For the therapeutic zone, give the kin tape 75-100% tension and put it diagonally across the AC joint. This amount of tension does not have recoil, but it gives stability to the area.
- Get your second strip. Add 75-100% tension to it. Place it diagonally on top of the first strip, forming an X pattern. Make sure to NOT add tension on the ends again.
- Again, add another 75-100% tension for your third strip. Position the tape in the same position as the first tape at a slightly lesser angle.
- For the last strip, add another 75-100% tension. Position it in the direction of the second strip at a slightly lesser angle.