Dealing with AC Arthritis: Solutions and Support for You

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to AC arthritis, a condition that affects the acromioclavicular joint in the shoulder. Whether you have already been diagnosed with AC arthritis or are experiencing joint pain and other symptoms, this article will provide you with helpful insights and practical tips to manage this condition effectively.

At, we understand the challenges that come with AC arthritis. That’s why we’ve brought together expert views and the latest research to provide you with the most up-to-date information on this condition.

Key Takeaways:

  • AC arthritis is a condition that affects the acromioclavicular joint in the shoulder.
  • This article will provide you with comprehensive information on understanding, diagnosing, and managing AC arthritis.
  • Effective management of AC arthritis requires early diagnosis, lifestyle modifications, and a range of treatment options.
  • Non-surgical treatment options for AC arthritis include medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.
  • Surgical treatment options for AC arthritis may be recommended in severe cases when non-surgical methods have been ineffective.

Understanding AC Arthritis

ac arthritis

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with AC arthritis, it’s essential to understand what this condition entails. AC arthritis, also known as acromioclavicular arthritis, is a type of arthritis that affects the AC joint, which connects the collarbone to the shoulder blade.

The AC joint is crucial for stabilizing the shoulder and allowing a wide range of arm movement. When this joint experiences wear and tear over time (known as osteoarthritis), it can lead to pain, stiffness, and limited mobility.

While AC arthritis is most commonly associated with athletes and active individuals who engage in repetitive overhead movements, it can affect anyone. Other risk factors include previous or current shoulder injuries, genetic predisposition, and age-related wear and tear.

Common symptoms of AC arthritis include pain in the shoulder area, particularly when raising the arm, stiffness, swelling, and a grinding sensation when moving the joint. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical attention to confirm a diagnosis.

Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans, and assessment of your medical history. Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options available to manage AC arthritis, which we will explore in later sections of this article.

Diagnosing AC Arthritis

Diagnosing AC arthritis requires careful examination and diagnostic testing by a qualified healthcare professional. Your doctor will begin by taking a complete medical history and performing a physical examination to assess the symptoms and signs of AC arthritis. During the physical exam, your doctor may manipulate the affected joint to check for tenderness, swelling, and range of motion.

To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, to evaluate the extent of joint damage and identify any bone spurs or other abnormalities. These tests can help differentiate AC arthritis from other conditions that cause shoulder pain, such as rotator cuff injuries or frozen shoulder.

Physical Examination

The physical examination is crucial in assessing the severity of AC arthritis. Your doctor will examine the shoulder joint for signs of tenderness, swelling, and range of motion. During the exam, your doctor may ask you to move your arm in different directions to evaluate the joint’s flexibility and identify any areas of pain.

Your doctor may also perform a series of physical tests, such as the cross-arm test or the O’Brien test, to evaluate the integrity of the joint and identify any damage or instability. These tests can help determine the degree of joint damage and guide treatment options.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, are essential in confirming the diagnosis of AC arthritis. These tests can help evaluate the extent of joint damage, identify any bone spurs or other abnormalities, and differentiate AC arthritis from other conditions that cause shoulder pain.

X-rays are the most commonly used imaging technique to detect joint abnormalities and determine the extent of joint damage. CT scans and MRI scans may be ordered if X-rays are inconclusive or if your doctor suspects other underlying conditions.

Overall, prompt diagnosis of AC arthritis is crucial in developing an appropriate treatment plan that can help manage symptoms and prevent further joint damage.

Managing AC Arthritis: Lifestyle Tips

If you have been diagnosed with AC arthritis, lifestyle modifications can help you manage your symptoms and improve your overall well-being. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the strain on your affected joint and prevent further damage. Here are some practical lifestyle tips to help you manage AC arthritis:

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying excess weight puts added pressure on your joints, increasing the risk of joint damage and worsening symptoms. Losing weight can help alleviate the strain and reduce your pain levels. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

2. Incorporate Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining joint flexibility and range of motion. Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and cycling can help improve your joint health without putting too much strain on your affected joint. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist to develop an exercise program that suits your needs.

3. Make Adjustments to Daily Activities

Simple adjustments to your daily routine can go a long way in reducing the strain on your affected joint. Use assistive devices to reduce the pressure on your joint, such as using a backpack instead of carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder. Additionally, take frequent breaks and avoid repetitive motions that put a strain on your joint.

By adopting these lifestyle tips, you can improve your quality of life while managing AC arthritis. Remember to consult with your doctor or physical therapist before making any significant lifestyle changes. In the next section, we will explore non-surgical treatment options for AC arthritis.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for AC Arthritis

ac arthritis

If you have been diagnosed with acromioclavicular (AC) arthritis, you may be wondering what treatment options are available to manage your condition. While surgery is an option for severe cases, there are non-surgical treatment options that can provide relief and improve joint function.


Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage pain and inflammation associated with AC arthritis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a common treatment option, but other medications such as corticosteroids and analgesics may also be recommended.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help improve joint function and range of motion through targeted exercises and stretches. Your physical therapist may also recommend heat or cold therapy, electrical stimulation, or other modalities to reduce pain and inflammation.


Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may be an effective treatment option for managing pain associated with AC arthritis.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care involves manual manipulation of the spine and other joints to improve mobility and reduce pain. While it has not been extensively studied for AC arthritis, some patients report significant relief through chiropractic treatments.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help relieve tension in the muscles surrounding the affected joint, reducing pain and improving mobility. Your massage therapist may use a variety of techniques, such as Swedish massage or deep tissue massage, to target specific areas of discomfort.

Non-surgical treatment options for AC arthritis can be effective in managing pain and improving joint function. Work with your healthcare provider to determine which treatment options are right for you and your specific condition.

Surgical Treatment Options for AC Arthritis

When non-surgical methods fail to relieve pain and improve function, surgery becomes a viable option for treating AC arthritis. The goal of surgery is to remove damaged portions of the joint, reduce pressure, and restore mobility.

The following are the primary surgical options for treating AC arthritis:

Procedure Description
Arthroscopic Surgery A minimally invasive procedure that involves inserting a tiny camera through small incisions to view and remove damaged tissues. It is used to treat mild to moderate AC arthritis.
Resection Arthroplasty A procedure that involves removing a portion of the clavicle bone to create space for the joint to move freely. This option is recommended for patients with severe arthritis.
Clavicle Excision A surgery that involves complete removal of the clavicle bone. This option is recommended for patients with advanced arthritis and significant bone degeneration.

It is important to note that surgery should only be considered after trying non-surgical options. It is also vital to discuss the benefits and risks of surgery with your doctor and establish realistic expectations for recovery and long-term outcomes.

If you are experiencing symptoms of AC arthritis and are considering surgery, contact for expert advice and consultation.


AC arthritis can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right tools and support, you can effectively control your symptoms and improve your quality of life. By understanding the causes and symptoms of AC arthritis, you can take proactive steps to manage your condition.

Lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and adjusting daily activities, can help reduce joint strain and improve overall well-being. Non-surgical treatment options, including medications and physical therapy, can provide pain relief and improve joint function.

In severe cases, surgical treatment may be necessary, with various options available to address AC arthritis. It’s essential to work with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.

Remember, early diagnosis is key in managing AC arthritis effectively. By seeking support and taking a proactive role in your treatment, you can improve your quality of life. Visit for more information on AC arthritis and available treatments.


Q: What is AC arthritis?

A: AC arthritis, also known as acromioclavicular arthritis, is a condition characterized by inflammation and degeneration of the acromioclavicular joint, which connects the collarbone and shoulder blade. It can result in pain, stiffness, and restricted movement in the shoulder.

Q: What are the common symptoms of AC arthritis?

A: Common symptoms of AC arthritis include persistent shoulder pain, tenderness over the acromioclavicular joint, limited range of motion, swelling, and a clicking or grinding sensation in the joint during movement.

Q: What are the risk factors for developing AC arthritis?

A: Risk factors for AC arthritis include repetitive stress on the shoulder joint, aging, previous shoulder injuries, hereditary factors, and certain occupations or sports activities that involve overhead movements.

Q: How is AC arthritis diagnosed?

A: AC arthritis is typically diagnosed through a physical examination, medical history review, and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, or ultrasound. These diagnostic tools help determine the extent of joint damage and aid in developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Q: Are there any lifestyle tips to manage AC arthritis?

A: Yes, there are several lifestyle tips that can help manage AC arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling, practicing proper posture, and avoiding activities that worsen shoulder pain are all important steps in managing the condition.

Q: What are the non-surgical treatment options for AC arthritis?

A: Non-surgical treatment options for AC arthritis include pain medication, physical therapy, hot or cold therapy, wearing a brace or sling for support, and using assistive devices to reduce stress on the joint during daily activities. These treatments aim to alleviate pain, improve joint mobility, and enhance overall function.

Q: When is surgery considered for AC arthritis?

A: Surgery for AC arthritis is considered when conservative treatments have been ineffective in relieving pain and improving joint function. Surgical options may include joint fusion or reconstruction, depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s specific needs.

Q: What is the importance of early diagnosis and treatment for AC arthritis?

A: Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for AC arthritis to prevent further joint damage and reduce the progression of symptoms. Timely intervention allows for the implementation of appropriate management strategies, leading to better outcomes and an improved quality of life.

Jillian Hunt is a strong and inspiring individual who has been living with arthritis for over a decade. Despite the challenges she faces, she’s determined to find ways to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. She’s also an advocate for others who face similar challenges, sharing her insights on various forums.

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Arthritis Treatment Lab is a blog dedicated to providing information and resources on various treatment options for arthritis. From traditional approaches such as medication and physical therapy, to alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, we strive to educate and empower individuals who are living with this condition. Our articles cover the latest research findings, practical tips for managing symptoms, and personal stories from people who have successfully overcome arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or a long-time sufferer, Arthritis Treatment Lab is here to support you on your journey towards better health.