AC Joint stabilisation – Protocol

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AC Joint Stabilisation

Indications: Performed for AC Joint Dislocations





Post operative Protocol:

Pre-operative rehabilitation is advisable (Pre-hab) 

Post op
Day 1 – 3 weeks Level 1 Exercises
  • Sling for 3 weeks (athletes can wean off sooner under guidance of club therapist)
  • Teach axillary hygiene
  • Teach postural awareness and scapular setting
  • Core stability exercises as appropriate)
  • proprioceptive exercises (minimal weightbearing below 90 degrees)
  • Active assisted flexion as comfortable 
  • Active assisted external rotation as comfortable
  • Do not force or stretch
3 – 6 weeksLevel 2-3 exercises
  • Wean off sling
  • Progress active assisted to active ROM as comfortable
  • Do not force or stretch
6 – 12 WeeksProgress Level 3+ exercises
  • Regain scapula & glenohumeral stability working for shoulder joint control rather than range
  • Gradually increase ROM
  • Strengthen
  • Increase proprioception through open & closed chain exercise
  • Progress core stability exercises
  • Incorporate sports-specific rehabilitation
  • Plyometrics and pertubation training
Week 6 Active elevation to pre op level
Week 12 Minimum 80% range of external rotation compared to asymptomatic sideNormal movement patterns throughout range
Failure to achieve milestones Referral to surgeon


Return to functional activities
Return to work Sedentary job: as tolerated 
Manual job: 3 months
Driving 6-8 weeks
Swimming Breaststroke: 6 weeks 
Freestyle: 12 weeks
Golf 3 Months
Lifting Light lifting can begin at 3 weeks. Avoid lifting heavy items for 3 months.
Contact Sport E.g. Horse riding, football, martial arts, racket sports and rock climbing: 3 months

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