Rugby Injuries, Rugby Injury
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Slipped Disc
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Broken Neck
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Acromio Clavicular Joint Sprain
Rotator Cuff Injury
Dislocated Shoulder
Broken Collar Bone
Rugby Pitch
Shoulder Seperation & Rugby



Shoulder Separation Injury Introduction

A shoulder separation is a fairly common injury, especially in rugby. Most shoulder separations are actually injuries to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The AC joint is the connection between the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collarbone). Shoulder dislocations and AC joint separations are often mistaken for each other. But they are very different injuries.

A player can damage AC joint ligaments by falling on the shoulder after a tackle and via a direct collision from an opponent. The sudden impact from the fall or tackle causes the shoulder blade to push down which stretches the ligaments away from the collar bone. The Collar bone and Shoulder Blade become separated, hence the term 'Shoulder Separation'.

There are 3 basic types of injury:

Type I - AC joint remains well aligned, but the ligaments are strained (or sprained).

Type II - Complete rupture of the AC ligaments and strain of the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament such that the end of the clavicle is displaced less than 100% of its width.

Type III - Both the AC and CC ligaments are ruptured with clavicle displaced more than 100% of its width. In addition, the coracoclavicular inter space is increased by more than 25 to 100%.


Shoulder Separation Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain and tenderness on the outer area of the collar bone
  • The player will find movement of the shoulder painful.
  • In type 3 injuries there may be a visible lump on the outer part of the collar bone.
  • X-rays will be required


Shoulder Separation Treatment

Nonsurgical Treatment

The player will be advised to use a sling; cold pack and medication which can often help manage the pain. A neoprene shoulder support will lessen AC joint motion and lessen pain.
Most people return to near full function with this injury, even if there is a persistent, significant deformity. Some people have continued pain in the area of the AC joint, even with only a mild deformity. This may be due to:

• Abnormal contact between the bone ends when the joint is in motion
• Development of arthritis
• Injury to a disk-like piece of cushioning cartilage that is often found between the bone ends of this joint.

It is often worthwhile to wait and see if reasonable function returns without surgical treatment.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery can be considered if pain persists or the deformity is severe. A surgeon might recommend trimming back the end of the collarbone so that it does not rub against the acromion.
Where there is significant deformity, reconstructing the ligaments that attach to the underside of the collarbone is helpful. This type of surgery works well even if it is done long after the problem started.

Whether treated conservatively or with surgery, the shoulder will require rehabilitation to restore and rebuild motion, strength, and flexibility.

What you can do

• Consult an expert
• Use ice packs/cold therapy
• Use resistance bands for strengthening exercises
• Wear a neoprene shoulder support for reassurance

Rugby Rescue Recommends

5 Star Rating


This high quality neoprene shoulder strap helps reduce shoulder pain, reduce swelling and accelerate healing. Custom fits the shoulder itself.

How does it work?

The Vulkan Neoprene range features premium quality neoprene. This offers support, compression, heat retention and comfort. Vulkan Neoprene has a unique spiral lining for removing excess perspiration, which avoids skin problems and is more comfortable to wear.

Retaining heat and providing support is helpful for the treatment and prevention of shoulder pain. By increasing local blood flow, healing and recovery times can be reduced following a shoulder injury. The Vulkan Shoulder Strap applies uniform compression around the 'ball' of the shoulder (Deltoid and Rotator cuff region). Women often find that the Vulkan Shoulder Strap is very comfortable to wear as the strap does not cut across the breast region.

Anytime for therapeutic heat and pain relief for shoulder bursitis, rotator cuff injury or impingement syndrome.

Ideal for sports, where a restriction of shoulder movements is not desirable.
Unrestricted arm movement.

View shoulder supports that provides support for the entire shoulder joint.




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