The most common site for collarbone injuries is the joint where the collarbone meets part of the shoulder blade, known as the acromio-clavicular joint, or ACJ. Injuries to this area are usually sustained as a result of a heavy/awkward/misplaced tackle or due to landing on the area as a result of a tackle/drop.
If the player is concerned about the area, with more severe pain, bruising, swelling, altered sensation or a difference in the structure of the collarbone on palpation, then an X-Ray should be obtained to ensure no more serious damage has been sustained. If the player, coach, Physiotherapist or designated first aider is in any way unsure about the severity of the injury it is useful to seek medical assessment to clear the joint for Physiotherapy treatment.
Management of ACJ injuries follows PRICE protocol, as set out in the Acute Injuries section.
- Ice: Ice will reduce inflammation, aid pain relief and aid resolution of bruising.
- Physiotherapy: treatments such as frictions, working across the tendon fibres to promote optimal alignment of healing fibres and for pain relief are useful for this area. When pain levels are low and intermittent and player is ready to participate in contact training or match play, then strapping of this area is useful to reduce the pressure on the joint.
- Posture: correction of posture by encouraging optimal placement of the shoulder blades (imagining the shoulder blades being pulled down and in towards the opposite jeans pocket) and normal alignment of the spine will relieve stress on the ACJ.
Unfortunately, due to this area often being strained (from sleeping posture, poor sitting or standing posture and increased load taken through the upper limbs etc.) it can take longer for the symptoms this type of injury to resolve.