CUH Logo

Mobile menu open

Discharge advice: Following attendance with a shoulder (acromio-clavicular joint) sprain

Patient information A-Z

You have a sprain (partial disruption of ligament fibres) of the joint between the shoulder blade and collar bone.

What should I expect and what can I do to help my shoulder to heal?

A sling will hold your shoulder in a comfortable position for a few days.

You should wean yourself off this as your pain settles and aim to remove the sling completely as soon as you feel able.

You may initially require regular painkillers as it is important to keep gently moving the shoulder and gradually resume daily activities within the limits of discomfort. This will prevent stiffness and ensure quickest return to normal function.

Forcible stretching is unnecessary, and is likely to cause pain and delay your recovery.

Symptoms may take three to six weeks to settle, but it may take several months for the shoulder to feel normal again.

There may be slightly reduced movement at the shoulder, especially when lifting the arm, but this is likely to improve over time with normal use.

This injury almost always heals well with time and use, no other specific treatment is required and therefore routine follow-up is unnecessary.

An X-ray of a shoulder (acromio-clavicular joint) sprain

Physiotherapy advice

These exercises might aid in maintaining the mobility of the affected limb. Perform these exercises within your pain limitations and do not force your joint through the movement.

Illustration of a woman carrying out pendular exercises: her left hand is leant against a surface and her back is arched forwards. Her right hand is hanging down beside her.

Stand leaning on a table with one hand. Let your other arm hang relaxed straight down. Swing your arm forwards and backwards. Repeat 10 times.

Illustration of a person laying on the floor on their back with their knees bent, stretching one arm out straight in front of them and using the other arm for support

Move your affected arm towards the ceiling and then towards the floor with the help of your unaffected arm. Repeat 10 times.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151