Treatment of the Acute Traumatic Acromioclavicular Separation

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Injuries to the acromioclavicular joint occur commonly in athletes, especially those involved in contact sports. The majority of these injuries are type I and II acromioclavicular joint separations and are treated nonoperatively with rehabilitation. A rapid and full return to play is expected. Acute types IV, V, and VI are less common and operative intervention is recommended. The type III injury is more controversial and current trends are towards initial nonoperative management. Operative treatment is sought only when the athlete remains symptomatic with painful instability. However, some do support early intervention in the overhead athlete. The goal of operative intervention is to create a stiff and strong repair/reconstruction of the coracoclavicular ligaments while providing stability in all planes. This will allow early and more aggressive rehabilitation. Surgical treatment includes reconstruction of the coracoclavicular ligaments with an augmented coracoacromial ligament transfer and more recently tendon graft reconstructions. Biomechanical research supports an anatomic reconstruction of the ligaments to confer the most function and stability.

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