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Weightlifter’s Shoulder

Do you have pain in the front of the shoulder? Regularly lifting weights? Do you have a very physical job?

A condition you should be aware of is Weightlifter’s Shoulder.

What is it?

Weightlifter’s Shoulder, also known as distal clavicular osteolysis, refers to the wearing of bone at a rate faster than it can be repaired occurring where the collar bone meets the top of the shoulder blade. Consistent stress through repetitive lifting creates this degradation and or compression at the joint.

The most common symptoms of Weightlifter’s Shoulder/AC Joint Osteolysis are:

  • Dull ache over the AC joint (top of shoulder around collar bone)
  • Pain and tenderness when pressure is applied on top of the shoulder
  • Pain with upper extremity exercise and overhead activities
  • Pain felt radiating to the neck and deltoid
  • Swelling at the end of the collarbone or in the AC joint
  • A general feeling of weakness in the shoulder

What is the treatment?

  • In the acute stage when pain is easily aggravated, it is important to Immediately to rest from activities particularly overhead dominant activities
  • For those that smoke there is evidence that reducing/cutting out smoking where possible may improve the rate of bone repair.
  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers if applicable to individual
  • Ice massages

Activity Modification plays a huge role in the non-operative treatment of weightlifter’s shoulder!

Will I need surgery?

  • For those with more severe cases or unwilling to refrain from aggravating activities, operative treatment may be effective.
  • Surgery involves the removal of the end of the clavicle (distal clavicle resection). Depending on the chosen route of management by the surgeon, rehabilitation time varies but is typically very successful.


Come visit Mike Varney Physiotherapy for an assessment to see how we can help with your shoulder problem call 01279 414 959!

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