Diagnosis of AC joint osteoarthritis requires a doctor’s appointment. During this appointment, a detailed medical history will be taken, including information such as the type of symptoms experienced, when and how the symptoms were first presented, what movements or positions provoke pain, and any other relevant medical conditions, injuries, and medications.
A physical examination will assess for tenderness in the AC joint or pain with certain movements. Your physician may request that diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray, be performed to determine if the AC joint is narrowed or if bone spurs are present.
Another diagnostic tool that may be utilized is the injection of a numbing agent into the affected area to determine if the pain temporarily resolves.
After a diagnosis of acromioclavicular joint osteoarthritis, the approach that is best for you will be dependent on several factors, including your age, the severity of your pain and physical limitation, and your overall state of health.
While arthritic changes are irreversible, there are numerous options available to manage pain and slow or even prevent the progression of degenerative changes.
Some of the options to manage pain include:
Acetaminophen to reduce pain
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce pain and inflammation
Other oral medications specific to treating arthritis and inflammation
Topical creams, such as Lidocaine, Menthol, Traumeel, and Tiger Balm
Aquatics or pool therapy program
Hot/cold therapy, using heat and ice to reduce pain and swelling
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Occupational therapy (including improving the ergonomics of your workstation, if applicable)
Exercise to improve body mechanics or exercise modification if your workout routine is a source of aggravation to the AC joint
Dietary changes to reduce inflammation