AC joint dislocations are classified into different types based on the severity of the injury:
- Type I: This is a mild sprain of the AC joint with no actual dislocation. The ligaments around the joint are stretched, but there is no significant joint separation.
- Type II: This is the most common type and involves a partial dislocation of the AC joint. The acromioclavicular ligament is torn, leading to a visible bump or deformity above the shoulder.
- Type III: This type involves a complete dislocation of the AC joint, with both the acromioclavicular and coracoclavicular ligaments torn. The clavicle is displaced significantly, resulting in a noticeable bump on top of the shoulder.
- Type IV-VI: These are rare and severe dislocations that involve additional ligament injuries and often require surgical intervention.
- Type I and II: These injuries are typically managed non-surgically using conservative measures. Treatment may involve rest, ice, pain management, and immobilization using a sling or brace. Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises are often prescribed to restore range of motion, strength, and stability.
- Type III: Non-surgical treatment may be attempted initially, but some cases may require surgical intervention, especially in athletes or individuals who require a high level of shoulder function. Surgery aims to stabilize the joint by reconstructing the torn ligaments using various techniques, such as tightrope fixation, suture anchors, or ligament transfers.
- Type IV-VI: These severe dislocations often require surgical treatment due to the extent of ligament damage. Surgery typically involves reconstructing the damaged ligaments using techniques like tendon grafts, transplants, or synthetic graft materials.