Arthritis can cause painful breakdown of the acromioclavicular joint – the part of the shoulder where the acromion, or the shoulder blade, and the clavicle, or the collar bone. The arthritis can also cause the formation of bone spurs, which can irritate the rotator cuff and even cause a rotator cuff tear. Treatment may involve medication, therapy, and even an injection. Some cases, however, ultimately improve only with surgery. Unlike many other joints, the acromioclavicular joint does not require reconstruction or replacement. Instead, it can usually be treated with simple excision of the end of the clavicle (the “distal” clavicle). Excision can be performed using shoulder arthroscopy or open surgery. Dr. Bushnell has performed hundreds of distal clavicle excisions for arthritis with excellent results.
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