I had an ac seperation (shoulder separation) grade three on 4/14/07. I treated it non-surgical and did physical therapy. It has been about 5 months now and my shoulder feels fine when I go about a normal day routine. When it comes to working out, I am not 100%. I am good with every body part except chest. I went from bench pressing 345lbs to struggling with 95lbs. Anyone have any experience with this injury and getting back to doing a descent bench press? Will I be better off having this surgically repaired? Keep in mind, I'm fine with every other body part, even shoulders. not 100%, but good weight.
Thread: Ac Separation
09-17-2007, 05:11 PM #1
09-18-2007, 07:55 PM #2
I injured my AC back in January, I'm not sure what grade but the first couple of weeks of recovery it was so bad I couldn't do a single push-up. Time passed ... maybe 2-3 months and I was ready to "test" it and was getting frustrated with the lack of being able to push the weight I used to on chest... Even attempting to come close to it resulted in pretty unbearable pain.
So I swallowed my pride and decided to go on a cut instead and try and rest the affected ac joint as much as was needed. Fast forward to today, and I'm 20 lbs lighter and 100% as strong as I used to be on all lifts ... even included presses - bench and DB. While it doesn't FEEL 100% on the heavy heavy lifts ( bout 70lbs dumbells, alot for my size at 140lbs I'd say) I definately never feel in any danger of injuring further ... so yeah I'd say ive come along way and its getting better all the time
So my advice to you is to wait 8-12 months and see how it feels ... thats the kinda time this kinda **** takes to heal. And in that time DO NOT try and lift heavy on anything involving the shoulder and be careful to ease back into it. In my cut I never did anything more strenuous than push-ups with it.While I know its a hard pill to swallow at first, if you think rationally on it your only other options are 1) get surgery now 2) continue to lift and ignore it and put yourself at risk of further injury which just means more downtime in the longrun.
Hope this helps.
09-18-2007, 11:30 PM #3
I definitely am not 100% but I am stronger than before. I always do rotator cuff exercises before shoulder workouts and chest workouts. I stay away from going too heavy in dips. I only use my bodyweight now. I definitely refrain from trying to go to heavy or max out when doing bench. You are only gonna end up hurting yourself again. The lowest I go in reps is probably 4.
Its been over a year now and I feel that my shoulder will never be the same again. I even feel that I have a tear in my capsule that holds the ac joint together because I can feel it move when I go too heavy.
09-25-2007, 08:43 AM #4
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I haven't posted for a while on the forum... I recently started working out again after taking about 1 year off. I screwed up my AC joint over 1 year ago but I never had it checked by a doctor. I'm assuming I have a grade 2 tear. I hurt myself while bench pressing about 225lbs, with INCORECT form. I was sticking out my elboys out instead of keeping them tucked in and all of the weight was putting pressure against the AC joint. I did some physio for about 1 to 2 month, but finally gave up on weight lifting because I was to afraid of hurting my shoulder further and because it would still hurt.
Here I am 1 year later, my shoulder no longer hurts? but I still feel the AC joint clicking or moving a bit out of place when doing weird movements. I have a small bump on top of the AC joint, I can't see it just by looking but I can feel it with my finger tips.
I started working out again about 3 weeks ago. I started with physio exercises for my shoulders and cardio. I recently started using light weights (on all my exercises). I'm making 100% certain that my form is perfect during shoulder exercise and keeping my elboys tucked in during push up (no bench press as of yet). I've read that things never go back to normal once you tear this ligament.
You should completely avoid DIPSs, as well as UPRIGHT ROWS and PULLOVERS since they are put a lot of strain\pressure on the AC joint and will make it worse. In my case, since I probably ripped most of the front part of the AC joint during bench pressing, I have to be VERY careful during my bench press. (push ups for now)
Use common sense and just be careful... you can damage the joint further during exercising and won't feel it until the next day.
Last edited by Thestef; 09-25-2007 at 08:49 AM.Body builders are not made in the gym, they are made in the kitchen.
06-24-2011, 08:46 PM #5
Grade III Separation and Reconstructive Surgery
I know that this message board hasn't been commented on in years, but I feel my experience with AC separation may be useful to others.
In 2008, I completely separated my Left AC joint (Grade III). I submit that LIGAMENT TEARS have got to be in the top 5 most painful experiences a human can endure; mine included. It was WAY worse than breaking a bone (I've broken a few). B/c my shoulders are square-shaped the separation caused my clavical to stick up about 2 inches. It was an unsightly deformation. After three months of rehab I elected to have reconstructive surgery with a cadaver ligament. That pushed that ugly clavical back down. It was tade-off, now I have a 5 inch scar extending perpendicular to my calvical (yea, I know there are less invasive methods, but I didn't have much option, it was done by a military doctor. Yea, I know, they suck).
After surgery I was back to square-one. However, the smartest thing I did was never yeild on physical training. The week before my surgery I bought a $100 exercise bike on Craigslist. Surgery left me apartement bound; so I road the exercise bike every other day. I made sure blood pumped through that recently operated appendage, even if it caused much discomfort (however I avioded a strenuous pace if it caused pain). Days after riding my shoulder would feel much looser and less painful. I completely avoided "frozen shoulder", a common side-effect of keeping your shoulder immobile for extended periods of time. In addition, my doctor commented that my recovery time was well above average.
Presently (2011), I am back in the gym hitting the heavy weight. Does the injury still bother me? Yes, but I've learned to work around it and still get in a great workout. Thankfully I was smart enough to focus on intensive rehab so much in the first year, which aided in regaining my Range of Motion. On a side note, I know someone who also exprienced a Grade III separation in his High School days. He took the conservative route and never had surgery. Unfortunately, he coddled the shoulder. Favoring it has truncated his Range of Motion. I asked him to demonstrate his RoM, so he lift his Right arm (recruiting the injuried shoulder). He could not pass his arm above parallel with the floor. I reached out and lifted up on his right forearm testing his RoM (I wanted to see if he was faking. Unfortunately, he wasn't). To my amusement, he exclaimed his pain with a girlish yelp. I couldn't believe how poor his RoM had become (I mean, we're both in our twenties).
Back to my shoulder; when I lift these are the exercises that have been affected: bench, dips, any exercise with shoulders, traps, deadlifts, upper back, and bar curls (b/c one shoulder hangs slightly lower than the other). Each of these has been affected differently, with bench and dips being the most noticable. What I've noticed is that the front deltoid on the injuried shoulder has been devestated beyond what the body can return to normal. When the AC separates completely, many of the muscular connections of the front deltoid go with it. This is not to say that my front delt is gone, it is merely smaller and less powerful (as it has less connections). So when I try to perform an exercise like bench press the chest has to compensate. Unfortunately my left side fatigues far sooner than my right. I've learned to deal with it. I know when it is going to fatigue and I anticipate it. And I incorporate exercises that isolate each side to encourage balance. Right now I'm benching more than I every have before (b/c BB is all about diet/supps, rest, and form). Good luck to anyone suffering from this injury AND DON'T GIVE UP.
02-05-2012, 11:53 PM #6
I've just had a ac3 separation on right shoulder, on friday the 13th of Jan. I'm about able to move arm in any direction after about 3 weeks. I'm a very fast recover but when the doctor tells me I have no ligament(s) in the front of my shoulder and very ugly bone sticking up I'm f*ckn pissed. I don't want to have such large muscles to cover the bone and it looks terrible. If there is anyone here with before and after pictures of good physique before then after with bone sticking up.. then after surgery.. Only picture's I can find are of skinny starving looking type people with no muscle to cover the dmg. I wake up and look at my self in the mirror and get sick to my stomach at the appearance of the shoulder and want them to do anything to put the thing back into place and I am even starting to get pass the surgery fears. Is this worth it? I know I can over come the rehab, my body heals well and heals fast. Basically I'm asking is the surgery good enough to fix the position of the joint and let it look normal if i cover it up with a tat later?
03-12-2012, 08:34 AM #7
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I went through a grade 3 separation back in January of '09 from a snowboarding crash. I opted out of the surgery from hearing accounts of limited range of motion, to intermittent pain, to never regaining full strength/functionality. I decided to just let it heal naturally and just deal with the fact that it sticks up and is visible. I wear it like a battlescar now and could care less what anyone thinks about it.
The reason all the pics you find are of skinny people is because the injury occurs mostly in skinny people. I was 5'10 about 140lbs at the time. I let it rest for about 8 months before testing it out and starting to get back into physical activity. I started really light w/ pushups etc and then I started hitting the gym and went on a crazy bulk and got up to about 165 pretty quickly (dem noob gains) I found that letting it go naturally I don't have any real range of motion restrictions and it never gives me pain, it just feels a little awkward at times simply because the shoulder muscle is supporting everything.
Fast forward to today. I just hit a PR on deadlift of 350 x 2 at my current body weight of 179. My shoulder muscles are pretty sore since the clavicle isn't taking any of the load, but I feel great and will continue pushing my deadlift.
I never lifted before the injury, so I don't have an comparisons to how much strength was lost etc. I think this has been beneficial as all my current mass has been established after the injury.
Hopefully this helps you, Feel free to pm me if you have any questions or w/e. Also do let it rest, I know it sucks but it's best to not get frustrated and try to push it too soon.
12-24-2012, 01:52 AM #8
I had my ac separation about 2 years ago I have type 1 separation, has been to many doctors unfortunately this injury is permanent and we will have to live with it for the rest of our lives, For me after injury(bicycle accident) it w as perfectly fine till i started to do military push ups and similar presses, I also ignored the pain it made it worst so I need to stop working out for almost a year.The way that i took care of it (it is also being advised to build muscles around shoulders ) So I did lateral and frontal arm raises for a mouth and shrugs mine has not completely recovered yet but its way better than before. So Just try to build muscles that surrounds the AC also never do over shoulder work outs
Good luck !
For the type 3 injuries surgeries are possible
Last edited by othello89; 12-24-2012 at 01:53 AM. Reason: additional info
01-20-2013, 05:38 PM #9
01-25-2013, 03:57 PM #10
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03-16-2013, 06:08 PM #11
Sorry to resurrect an old thread. I am currently on my 7th month coming off an AC seperation. Day to day activities are fine, but still cant do more than 10 push ups without pain or any type of bench press type exercises. Based on previous posts looks like 12 months of recovery, sound about right? Im in the military so Im getting nervous being on a profile for pushups and just want to be back to before I hurt myself. Any recommendations on treatment, excercises to build muscle around it, etc? Thanks in advance. Zach
04-01-2013, 02:52 PM #12
04-01-2013, 03:14 PM #13
In the past, the AC ligament of my left shoulder was damaged. Nothing was done medically to repair the AC ligament. Up to now, I still feel a bit of looseness and weakness in the left shoulder. There are also imbalances (differences between right and left shoulder and arms). The AC ligament seems to be absent. I can feel the AC joint dislocating during certain movements, especially when the surrounding muscles are relaxed. Strengthening my trapezius, rear deltoids and other back muscles helped a lot. Bench press no more feels the same, but it will get better when more muscle mass surrounds the affected area and provide more support.
In my case, I think replacing the torn ligament with an artificial one would have been better than without any ligament inbetween the AC joint. But, it costs a lot of money and there are always some risks.
I suggest you to do a lot of back exercises while trying to keep the AC joint in place. Surrounding muscles need to be strengthen and grown in mass to compensate weaknesses caused by the absence of a ligament or loose ligament. As for you bench press, I suggest you to do a lot of reps with small load rather than going heavy. Do a lot of repetitions while trying to keep everything in place. Avoid excessive stress on the affected shoulder (no overhead presses, no dips, do not force yourself on side raises) and don't do stretches that tend to open or seperate the AC joint. If things don't improve enough for your satisfaction after a year or so, then consider surgery.
Last edited by OptimumBody; 04-01-2013 at 03:20 PM.
04-03-2013, 04:21 PM #14
Class 3 AC separation November 2012
I have a class 3 AC separation, the injury happened in november of 2012 and I am now 5 months along, the end of my collar bone still sticks up when i hold my shoulder at some angles, but not badly and i suffer no pain doing normal everyday tasks. I have been back in the gym for 2 full weeks now and have been doing light chest (50-lb dumbbells as of today) with a little muscular soreness, but no real pain, and am dead-lifting 225-lb, none of this causing me any real pains or discomfort, just aches a little sometimes. I did not lift at all for about 4 months, and now even with a slight deformity, I feel no shifting of the clavicle while lifting, BUT there are some things i am taking slowly, like flys, shrugs, dips, and pull ups. Before my injury, i was lifting everyday and playing rugby, squatting 405, benching 275, and dead-lifting 365, i feel pretty confident that, with the way my recovery has gone so far, I will eventually be able to be as physically active as i was before. Though I am currently in the weight room, my goal is to progress myself far enough to endure high intensity, body weight workouts, and maybe take my training in a different direction than before. Good luck to the rest of you, dont rush it.
07-08-2013, 02:59 PM #15
AC Separation 8 Months Out
This is a very interesting thread. I thought I'd add my experience to it as well.
Rewind to Thanksgiving 2012. Visiting the folks' ranch and out on a four-wheeler I used to fly around on every day in high-school, a power-slide went awry and I ended up under a 580lb ATV. I took the handle bars to my upper chest. That fractured my top four ribs, partially collapsed one lung, and tore my right AC joint nearly to the point of full separation. The docs weren't too concerned with my shoulder at the initial hospital stay but said I would realize how painful it was once my ribs started to heal and I started wanting out of my sling more. Later the ortho surgeon took his pictures and told me I would have to choose between a pretty big lump or a surgery scar. He gave me a bit of medical tubing and showed me some exercises I could do by hooking that to a door handle. "Do those for four or five months and then schedule a follow-up."
Today. I had started to use my little band after almost a month (when the ribs stopped being incredibly painful) and I have now recovered about 75% of my prior strength. I have not done my follow-up because up to now I've seen pretty steady improvement and reduction in pain on my own. I have 90-95% of my left arm's RoM and am not afraid to lift weights moderately with the injured shoulder. I am now at the point of trying to make that decision regarding the lump versus a surgery scar. Health insurance/paying isn't an issue, but my concern is if it will be worth the post-surgery setback I will experience. Either way, I'm due for another visit to an orthopedic surgeon.
Good luck to everyone that is also dealing with this issue of continuing his/her exercise-full lifestyle post AC joint separation.
01-16-2016, 07:10 PM #16
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Unfortunately, I am bumping this old thread because I suffered an AC separation in a cycling accident this AM. The ER folks put me in a sling for the weekend and I'll be seeing an ortho doc Mon or Tues. It is likely grade 2 or 3 as the end of my clavicle is making a very large bump, So, the ligament is probably torn.
Such a bummer. I have spent the past 2 years busting my butt in the gym and am very happy with how far I have come. I am so afraid that this injury will prevent me from ever being able to do heavy lifting again. So many unknowns...
I'll post up my progress as I go through PT (and surgery if needed).
02-17-2016, 08:06 AM #17
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I had a grade 3+ separation 12/24/15 in a motorcycle mishap. Two days ago I pulled 385 dl for a single. Haven't squated more than 225 because it hurts. Have been doing ohp on a smith machine with 95lb for 10's. Bench is the only thing I can't do...65lbs hurts. Hopefully be back to 100% in a couple months.
03-02-2016, 09:44 PM #18
Grade 5 ac sep
Grade 5 seperation.. my doctor said I had the worst ac separation he's ever seen.. my bone was so close by popping out my skin, i injured it playing football with no gear, I had reconstruction surgery on my shoulder, it took me 2 months to fully move my shoulder around , I'm on my 4 th month and I cant do much lifting on it I'm restricted to lift more then 10 but I can lift more even though that's not smart , I can do about 15 push-ups I do not force myself at all so yes always stop at the limit. My muscle mass has fallen down drastically so I lift 5lb weights and they pretty much woke up my "sleeping muscle" both arms are about same as muscle mass but shoulder deltoid does look like it is missing muscle since surgery pretty much split in between to get to the ac joint. I have not much pain just slightly. I start physical therapy in a couple days. I can see in about 4 more months I will gain back my strength. . I believe since the muscle has been not movement once I start to build up slowly I will gain enough around the ac to lift heavy. Patience is key, take things slow.. I have so far the worst case I've seen on this thread, I also torn my bicep ligament, had a cadaver ligament placed on me & the end of my clavicle sawed off so no friction can cause pain. I'm impressed with surgery tho my shoulder has a bump that will not look normal BUT lift muscle and build around it and it will slowly sink into your muscle.
03-20-2016, 06:14 PM #19
Grade 3 AC separation 4 weeks in from accident
Hey guys sorry to post on such an old thread but I'm just looking for advice or help of some kind as I am going out of my mind at this point... on the 24th of Feb 2016 I separated my right shoulder in a motorcycle accident. Shoulder took the brunt of the impact at about 50 mph or so I'd guess. Went to ER said I had a ac separation no help really. Saw an ortho 2 weeks after accident. He looked at xrays said it was a grade 3 and looked at me and said asked me to move my shoulder as far up and around as I could. At this point I had good range of motion with almost no pain so he said I seemed to be healing well. He said if I didn't feel better in a month to come see him again. It has not been a week and a half from seeing him and about 3 and a half weeks in from accident. I feel good with almost zero pain but what gets me is I feel unstable. I can feel the end of clavicle moving around or something in my shoulder if I move fast or quickly or pick something up off the ground like my keys and come up fast... it feels like something moves in my shoulder most likely the collar bone at the AC joint... I just wanted to know your guys experience because I am an addictive person and Rivendell I want this to heal and set still and not move anymore because I want to get back to doing things normally... will it ever set and not move at the slightest quick movement? Will things scar back together or with the ligaments reattach? I can't handle not knowing if it will be okay ever again without surgery. I feel no pain but again I can feel the bones moving freely and it is uncomfortable and I want it to set in place already. It's only been about a month from the accident so how long will it take to stay in place and scar together? Do you guys have any advice on how long it took for your grade 3 separation? I'm starting to lose my mind and be depressed because I feel no pain barely and want to use my arm a little but then the bones starts slipping and sliding in my shoulder and it feels wrong. Any help or advice on time to heal and if you guys felt your collar bone moving like that and how long it took it to stop or did it stop would be appreciated. Thanks
03-23-2016, 10:17 PM #20
Ac separation is rough.. I got a grade 3 last February snowboarding. 13 months later im still feeling it. I did not get surgery and i did my own PT. i didn't step into a gym for 5 months but stopped shortly after. About 2 months ago i finally started working out again. I don't even bother going heavy anymore. Chest workouts are very limited. No decline, dumbells, dips or bench. Shoulder work outs are surprisingly okay. I mix shoulders and chest and it gets a bit sore. Im still sore after workouts but again, i keep it light. Used to bench 265 now i bench on the smith machine with quarter plates. Def sucks but could be worse. Sleeping on that side still sucks too. Def get your PT in. I think i'd be in better shape now if I had it done by an actual Dr. Let it heal, don't push it and do PT. keep it moving tho, it locks up. Good luck with everything, it's def my worst injury. I've broken my leg and growth plate and have 3 screws in it, broken wrist, broken ankle, tons of stitches.. This is the worst.
03-24-2016, 11:42 AM #21
Grade 3 AC separation 4 weeks in from accident
I am 4 weeks and from my accident and it is healing pretty well pain is very minimal here and there when I make sudden movements. The thing that has been bothering me lately is that I feel my collarbone and moving around in my shoulder when I make sudden movements like picking Keys up off the floor and then bending back up or twisting my body quickly to turn or reaching for something quickly and the bone kind of like slides around or just moves out of place with the force or gravity. This means that it's still not scarred back to anything or the ligaments are reattached at all if any. I was just wondering if this happened to any of you guys because I am feeling a lot better with the pain but I am really irritated by the fact that I feel my shoulder moving around or my collar bone moving around on its own. Did any of you experienever this bone moving still at about month in? Will it ever stabilize and heal???? These are my biggest concerns. Like I said it's just the bone is kind of moving at the end between the collarbone and the shoulder and you can feel it and it feels unsteady has any of this ever happened to you? How long should I wait to get into physical therapy??? I try to get back in the gym as much as I can just leg stuff though. I went from hitting 300 on bench too I don't know what now because I haven't tried any upper body stuff. Arms and shoulders and tries I used to be really strong at but I have no idea now my body is atrophied a lot in these four weeks. Thanks for the help
01-28-2017, 04:24 PM #22
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UPDATE ONE YEAR AFTER CYCLING CRASH:
My AC separation was grade 3 and my Orotho suggested not having surgery if I was OK with the cosmetic aspects of "the bump". So, I went through about 3 weeks of immobilization followed by about 3 months of PT with no gym action. Of course, I got fat and lost plenty of mass. Then, I slowly tiptoed back into the gym. Really began upping the weights around 6 months post-injury. Other than having a bump on my shoulder, I don't have any functional issues or weakness vs. my "good" shoulder.
I have decided to gear my workout and diet plan to working towards a leaner athletic look. Progress has been good, but am probably 6 months away from where I would like to be. Between now and July, the goals are to build a little more mass in arms/shoulders/chest while shedding fat off of my abs and to continue lots of core work.
Anywho... the injury really sucked! But, it allowed me the chance to re-assess my fitness goals and adjust my approach to hitting those goals.
If you recently suffered an AC separation, do not be discouraged. You just have to be patient and let it heal. There are many opinions on surgery vs no surgery. Just consult with a good surgeon and make the decision that feels right to you.
I can't post link to pic (because of my post count), but a before/after pic is in my bodyspace gallery.