Acromioclavicular Joint Sprain : Judo Injuries

The acromioclavicular joint connects the shoulder and collarbone and can be felt as the bony protrusion on top of each shoulder. A fall, traumatic contact or high speed impact to the area can all result in the joint becoming sprained, and these sorts of incidents are common to contact sports like judo.

Symptoms of Acromioclavicular Joint Sprain

The most widespread symptom is pain that is restricted at first to the intersection of the shoulder and collarbone but which can spread over time to the back and arms. Pain is often exacerbated while raising your arms over the head or performing any other shoulder movement. The site of the injury may become inflamed. In some cases an abnormal lump may be felt in the shoulder, which can indicate a more serious acromioclavicular injury.

Causes of Acromioclavicular Joint Sprain

An abrupt traumatic incident is usually the cause of such sprains. In judo this might involve a shoulder collision with another athlete during a bout, either while grappling or moving towards each other at high speed. The sprain can also be provoked by a judo throw onto the mat in which the thrown athlete either lands directly on their shoulder, or uses the reflexive habit of placing an outstretched hand in front of them to break their fall. This puts enormous pressure on the collarbone and can result in a sprain. The shoulder can also suffer from hyperextension if forced out of its regular range of motion.

Medical Attention

Although an acromioclavicular sprain can be a fairly minor injury, you should consult a doctor in order to rule out more serious conditions such as shoulder separation. This injury has similar causes but can involve a full rupture of an acromioclavicular ligament and require significant surgery to correct. In the case of a regular sprain it is still necessary to see your doctor so that they can rule out complications and provide suitable treatment.

Medical Treatment

After diagnosing the sprain the doctor will either recommend a period of rest, during which you must refrain from judo and other strenuous shoulder activities, or immobilise the damaged shoulder with a sling in more severe instances. This acts to prevent further injury and excessive movement while the joint heals. Icing the area can often help to reduce pain and swelling. Anti-inflammatory medication or analgesics are regularly prescribed to assist the patient in dealing with pain.

Return to Activity

When the acromioclavicular joint has healed and is pain free, seek your doctor’s approval and then move on to stretching and strengthening the shoulder in order to rejuvenate any weakened muscles or ligaments. Only return to judo when you are sure about the strength in the shoulder. Any return of sharp pain must be reported to a medical professional.

Prevention for Acromioclavicular Joint Sprain

Keep your shoulders in the best possible condition by maintaining an appropriate program of stretching. Warm ups and strong muscles are often sufficient to guard against such injuries, though the nature of one-off traumas means that you will always be at risk when partaking in contact sports. Learning suitable falling techniques can help to reduce the likelihood of landing on an outstretched hand.

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