An AC sprain is a common injury that can occur when you fall or twist your arm. It is caused by damage to the ligaments that support your shoulder. If you have an AC sprain, you may experience pain, swelling, and difficulty moving your arm. In this blog post, we will discuss how to recover from an AC sprain and what exercises you can do to regain strength and mobility in your shoulder.
What Is AC Sprain?
AC sprain is a type of injury to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The AC joint is the junction between the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (shoulder blade). A sprain occurs when the ligaments that connect these bones are stretched or torn. It also refers to any type of damage to the acromioclavicular cartilage.
The symptoms of an AC sprain can vary depending on the severity of the injury. A mild sprain may cause only pain and tenderness at the site of the injury. More severe sprains can cause:
- Pain that radiates from the shoulder to the neck or down the arm
- Swelling and bruising around the shoulder
- Stiffness and decreased range of motion in the shoulder
- A visible deformity at the site of the injury (if the ligaments are completely torn)
There are several different grades of AC sprain, depending on the extent of the damage:
- Grade I sprain: The ligaments are mildly stretched.
- Grade II sprain: The ligaments are partially torn.
- Grade III sprain: The ligaments are completely torn.
How Is AC Sprain Diagnosed?
The diagnosis is not always clear. Sometimes the pain goes away on its own. But if the pain does not go away, your doctor may do some tests.
- Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. He or she will give you a physical exam. This is usually enough to diagnose an AC sprain.
- Your doctor may also order an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan. These tests can show if the bones and ligaments around your shoulder are damaged.
If your doctor is not sure of the diagnosis, he or she may refer you to a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon. An accurate diagnosis is an essential part of getting the best treatment.
How Is AC Sprain Treated?
There are several ways to treat an AC sprain. Some of the common treatment options include:
- Rest: Avoid activities that put stress on your shoulder, such as overhead motions. You may need to wear a sling to keep your arm from moving.
- Ice: Apply ice to your shoulder for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
- Heat: After the first 2 or 3 days, you may want to switch to heat. Apply heat to your shoulder for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
- Exercise: Specific exercises can help stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around your shoulder joint. A physical therapist can teach you these exercises.
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines can help reduce pain and swelling. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) are examples.
- Corticosteroid injections: In some cases, your doctor may give you a corticosteroid injection into your shoulder joint. This can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Surgery: In rare cases, you may need surgery to repair a torn tendon or ligament.
These are only some of the options that may be available to you. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the best treatment for your AC sprain. It is believed that a combination of treatments is often the most effective approach.
The amount of time it will take to recover from an AC sprain depends on the severity of your injury. In most cases, however, you should be able to return to your regular activities within a few weeks. Your doctor can tell you when it is safe to start using your shoulder again.
Will AC Sprain Heal Its Own?
This is a common question that people ask, but the answer is not that simple. There are different types of AC sprain, some will heal on their own, but some might not.
The first thing you need to do is identify what type of ac sprain you have. If you have a mild AC sprain, then it is likely that it will heal on its own. However, if you have a more serious ac sprain, then you might need to see a doctor or get some form of treatment.
Also, healing the sprain on its own will depend on how well you take care of it. If you rest, ice, and elevate the affected area, then the healing process will go much smoother. However, if you try to tough it out and don’t give your body the time it needs to heal, then you might end up with a more serious injury that could take even longer to heal.
If you’re not sure whether or not your AC sprain will heal on its own, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and see a doctor. They will be able to give you a better idea of what to expect and how to treat your injury.
Can Physical Therapy Be The Most Effective Option?
Physical therapy is beneficial for treating an AC sprain because it can help to improve the range of motion in the affected shoulder. It can also help to strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve your overall mobility. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you wear a sling or splint to keep your arm immobile while you recover.
There are several types of physical therapy that are considered effective for treating an AC sprain. These include:
- Passive range of motion exercises
- Active range of motion exercises
- Strength training exercises
- Flexibility training exercises
Your physical therapist will design a specific treatment plan for you based on the severity of your injury and your overall health. Recovery times vary from person to person, but most people start to see improvements within a few weeks of starting physical therapy.
More often than not, physical therapy is considered the most effective option for treating an AC sprain. However, you should consult with your doctor to determine if this is the best treatment option for you. Surgery is only recommended in severe cases where the ligaments are completely torn.
How To Prevent It?
It is always better to prevent an injury than to treat it. Here are some tips on how you can prevent an AC sprain:
- Wear supportive shoes that fit well and offer good arch support.
- Avoid high-impact activities such as running on hard surfaces or playing contact sports.
- Stretch and warm up properly before engaging in any physical activity.
- Listen to your body and rest when you are feeling tired or sore.
If you do experience an AC sprain, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to wear a splint or cast, take pain medication, or undergo physical therapy. With proper treatment, most people make a full recovery from an AC sprain.
Just be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and be patient with the healing process. With time and care, you will be back to your normal activities in no time.
In conclusion, an AC sprain is often a debilitating injury that can sideline athletes for weeks or even months. Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial for a quick and full recovery. It is important to understand the different types of sprains, as well as the symptoms and treatment options.
With the right care, most people can make a full recovery from an AC sprain and return to their previous level of activity. It is possible to prevent AC sprains through proper stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as using appropriate footwear.
Physical Therapy has always been proven to help patients recover from pain. Hence, if you’re experiencing Back pain, Shoulder pain, Knee pain, Neck pain, Elbow pain, Hip pain, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at MantraCare can help: Book a physiotherapy session.