With arthritis you’ll be feeling a pain directly in the joint. At night it will probably be a dull pain, but will get worse if you lie on the affected side. You’ll feel sharp pain when reaching overhead, especially at full stretch. You may also experience symptoms similar to rotator cuff tear.
If you have a condition known as osteolysis, you probably won’t be able to do a press up or a bench press without pain.
As with arthritis in other joints of the body, this normally affects older people. A previous injury doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get arthritis. If you play a lot of sports you may develop osteolysis which is similar to arthritis.
Your doctor will talk through your symptoms and examine your shoulder. An X-ray will help determine if the shoulder joint is part of the problem, and local anaesthetic may be injected into the tissues near the joint or into the joint itself.
The initial treatment depends on your symptoms. If just the AC Joint is affected then you might benefit from an injection of steroid. Your doctor might repeat this a couple of times if needed. If you’re experiencing symptoms in both the AC Joint and the muscles and tendons that surround the top of the upper arm bone (the rotator cuff) then a doctor might inject steroid into both areas.
If your symptoms don’t improve then your doctor may decide it’s worth removing the AC Joint with an arthroscope, which is a type of endoscope inserted into the joint through a small incision.