Patients with lower energy AC joint injuries that respond
to conservative non-operative treatment
can recover in as little as one week for a Grade I injury
to an average of twelve weeks for a Grade III injury.
Specific recovery programs following surgical reconstruction
of the AC joint vary depending on the type of surgery performed.
General care recommendations include:
- The use of a sling is required
for about 4 weeks.
- Incisions must be kept dry
for about three days after surgery.
- Stitches are usually removed
7 - 10 days after surgery.
- Lower arm exercises may begin
immediately. With an open surgical technique the arm may
be immobilized for 2-3 weeks before motion exercises are
- No lifting for 3 weeks.
- Overhead motion is limited
for the first 8-12 weeks because the fixation of the clavicle
to the coracoid process prevents the normal rotation necessary
for overhead movements.
- The patient is allowed use
of the arm at waist height to write or perform computer
work for the first 12 weeks. After that time, the screw
(if used) is removed, or the sutures have softened enough
to begin more aggressive range of motion and strengthening
- After the removal of the sling,
6-8 weeks of physical therapy is necessary to regain full
- Strength and velocity motions
of the throwing athlete may be delayed for 4-6 months.