Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis: A Common Cause of Shoulder Pain

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Osteoarthritis of the acromioclavicular joint is a frequent cause of shoulder pain and can result in significant debilitation. It is the most common disorder of the acromioclavicular joint and may arise from a number of pathologic processes, including primary (degenerative), posttraumatic, inflammatory, and septic arthritis. Patients often present with nonspecific complaints of pain located in the neck, shoulder, and/or arm, further complicating the clinical picture. A thorough understanding of the pertinent anatomy, disease process, patient history, and physical examination is crucial to making the correct diagnosis and formulating a treatment plan. Initial nonoperative management is aimed at relieving pain and restoring function. Typical treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and injections. Patients who continue to exhibit symptoms after appropriate nonsurgical treatment may be candidates for operative resection of the distal clavicle through either open or arthroscopic techniques.

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