Acromioclavicular joint injuries (AC)

The Acromioclavicular or A/C joint sits on the point of the shoulder, above the main joint of the shoulder (which is called the glenohumeral joint). The A/C joint plays a role in the biomechanics of throwing and other upper-limb activities. A/C joint injuries occur from falling directly on the point of the shoulder or from a direct clash of shoulders between players.

A/C joint injuries are graded in severity from 1-6 although usually only Grades 1-3 are seen in sporting injuries. A Grade 3 represents a total joint separation while Grade 1-2 injuries usually settle in a matter of weeks without requiring surgery. Professional football players will often be injected with local anaesthetic to play with a Grade 1-2 A/C joint.

To read more about this process, see the following article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine Benefits and risks of using local anaesthetic for pain relief to allow early return to play in professional football [PDF].

Grade 3 or 3+ injuries to the A/C joint sometimes require surgery (which can keep a professional player out for 6-8 weeks) although some players may be able to return after a few weeks without surgery.
Kane Cornes AC Joint injury
Kane Cornes of Port Adelaide injured his AC joint during a loss to North Melbourne in 2009.
(Image sourced from
AC joint injury
AC Joint injury in an NRL Sydney Roosters player
Name Team Onset Year Sport
Johann Sadie Bulls R 1 2012 UNION
Rudi Wulf Blues R 2 2012 UNION
Isaac Gordon Sharks Trials 2012 NRL
Josh Dugan Raiders R 3 2012 NRL
Trevor Thurling Raiders R 16 2012 NRL
Keith Galloway Tigers R 19 2012 NRL
Allen Christensen Geelong R 10 2012 AFL
Chance Bateman Hawthorn R 7 2012 AFL
Luke Shuey West Coast R 4 2012 AFL
Patrick Dangerfield Adelaide Round 16 2013 AFL
Justin Clarke Brisbane Round 20 2013 AFL
Josh Walker Geelong Round 1 2013 AFL
Matthew Shaw Gold Coast Round 19 2013 AFL
Danny Butcher Port Adelaide Round 6 2013 AFL
Jason Johannisen Western Bulldogs Round 15 2013 AFL
Troy Menzel Carlton Round 21 2014 AFL
Nat Fyfe Fremantle Round 20 2014 AFL
Clay Cameron Gold Coast Round 4 2014 AFL
Jack Martin Gold Coast Round 1 Week 1 2014 AFL
Danny Stanley Gold Coast Round 11 2014 AFL
Stephen Coniglio GWS Round 10 2014 AFL
Liam Shiels Hawthorn Round 4 2014 AFL
Michael Evans Melbourne Round 16 2014 AFL
Rohan Nahas North Melbourne Round 14 2014 AFL
Andrew Moore Port Adelaide Pre-season 2014 AFL
Aaron Young Port Adelaide Round 12 2014 AFL
Beau Maister St Kilda Round 16 2014 AFL
Xavier Ellis West Coast Round 20 2014 AFL
Jordan Roughead Western Bulldogs Round 3 2014 AFL
Clay Smith Western Bulldogs Round 10 2014 AFL

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