What is a Shoulder Separation?
A SHOULDER SEPARATION occurs when you tear the ligaments that hold your collarbone (clavicle) to the joint where it meets the shoulder blade. Your collarbone may move out of its normal place and push up the skin on the top of your shoulder. Another term for shoulder separation is acromioclavicular (AC) separation or sprain. Shoulder separations, or sprains, are graded I, II, or III, depending on how far the collarbone is separated from the shoulder. A grade I sprain has tenderness but no actual separation. A grade II sprain has slight separation of the clavicle from the shoulder, and grade III has a greater separation.
A shoulder separation can result from a blow to your shoulder or a fall on your shoulder. It also can result from a fall on your outstretched hand or arm. It is a common injury in contact sports such as football, rugby, hockey, or lacrosse. It may occur from falling onto a hard surface, such as might happen during downhill skiing, volleyball, rock climbing, and soccer.
- Severe pain at the moment the injury occurs
- Limited shoulder movement and tenderness on top of your shoulder at the end of your collarbone
- Swelling and bruising of your shoulder area
- A misshapen shoulder