Shoulder Separation

Shoulder Separation

What is shoulder separation?

A shoulder separation is the partial or total separation of two parts of the shoulder: the collarbone (the clavicle) and the tip of the shoulder blade (the acromion). A shoulder separation is classified on the basis of how badly the ligaments are injured. A forceful, direct blow to the top of the shoulder or falling onto the shoulder can cause shoulder separation.


  • Pain at the point of injury
  • Limited movement in the shoulder area
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness


Treatment of a shoulder separation will depend on its severity.

  • Ice/cooling therapy (Physicool) to relieve the pain and swelling
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Rest
  • Sling
  • Physical therapy

Protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation (PRICE) is one of the most recommended approaches for the management of a shoulder injury. The aim is to minimize hemorrhage, swelling, inflammation and pain, to provide the best conditions for healing to take place.

If you fall on your arm or receive a blow to the shoulder that causes continual pain and swelling, or if you have pain, stiffness or limited mobility following any activity that does not improve with home treatments (rest, cooling therapy, over the counter medications), you should seek the advice of a medical professional.  If the injury is accompanied by an inability to move your arm or shoulder, or you think the shoulder is displaced, the joint feels “loose”, or a bone may be broken, you should seek immediate medical attention.

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