A distal clavicle excision is a surgical procedure done to treat damage in the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The AC joint is an intermediate joint between the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (bone on top of shoulder). Inflammation and damage in the AC joint may be caused by trauma or from overload/overuse. Weightlifting, especially heavy or repetitive shoulder press or bench press can cause AC joint damage. Damage can occur from degenerative joint disease in the AC joint over time.
Symptoms typically include pain on the top of the shoulder and limited shoulder motion. There may be tenderness and swelling directly over the AC joint. Symptoms commonly occur when you reach across your body, reach overhead, or lay directly on the affected shoulder. There may also be pain when you reach behind your back. If symptoms do not resolve with conservative treatment such as rest, oral anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injection, and/or physical therapy, then a distal clavicle excision surgery is indicated.
Milwaukee Shoulder Physician Performs Acromioclavicular Surgery
A distal clavicle excision surgery is done as an all-arthroscopic procedure (visualized using a camera and video monitor; performed using small surgical instruments through very small incisions). The end of the collarbone is excised or removed using a motorized burr. Surgery is done under general anesthesia and as an outpatient procedure (you are able to go home the same day). Milwaukee shoulder physician, Ted Gertel, has performed acromioclavicular surgery with great success in helping patients get well.
There are always risks and benefits of surgery, and there are never any 100% guarantees regarding the outcome of surgery. The surgeon’s goal is to minimize the risks and help guide you to the best path of recovery. After surgery your arm will be immobilized in a sling as needed for support and comfort. Physical therapy is commonly prescribed after surgery to ensure the best recovery.