Shoulder : Shoulder Separation

Separated Shoulder

A Shoulder Separation occurs when you injure the area where your collarbone, or the clavicle, meets the shoulder. Your collarbone may move out of its normal place and push up on the skin on top of your shoulder. Another term for this is acromioclavicular (AC) separation or sprain.

How does this shoulder injury occur?
Shoulder Separation may result from a blow to your shoulder or a fall on your shoulder. It is a common injury in contact sports such as football, rugby, hockey, or lacrosse.


  • Severe aching pain at the moment the injury occurs.
  • Limited shoulder movement and tenderness on top of your shoulder at the end of your collarbone.
  • Swelling and bruising of your shoulder.
  • A visible bump on the top of your shoulders.

Potential Treatments

  • Right after your injury you should ice your shoulder for 20 to 30 minutes. Keep putting ice on your shoulder every three to four hours for the first two to three days.
  • The treatment of your separated shoulder depends on the severity. You may be placed in a sling or immobilizer to keep you from lifting your arm away from your chest to help the ligaments heal.
  • Your healthcare provider will prescribe rehabilitation exercises.
  • In some cases, surgery may be needed to reposition bones or repair torn ligaments.

To make an appointment at any of our UHealth Sports Medicine locations, please call 305-689-5555, option 2 or use our online appointment request form.