Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


My 17-year old son separated his shoulder playing football. The doctors say 'no surgery' just rest and let it heal on its own. Could he get back to playing football sooner with an operation?


There are lots of problems with operations trying to repair the AC (acromioclavicular) joint. In fact more than 60 different ways to surgically repair the AC joint have been tried.

Wires and screws don't seem to hold. They break or move causing problems. Sutures to hold the joint together don't seem strong enough. Many times the joint starts to move apart again.

Surgery isn't an option unless the person doesn't recover with conservative care or the injury is so severe an operation is the only way to treat it.

If your son follows his doctor's instructions he should heal in two to six weeks. Rehab should be completed before resuming football to prevent re-injury.

Paul W. Grutter, MD, and Steve A. Petersen, MD. Anatomical Acromioclavicular Ligament Reconstruction. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. November 2005. Vol. 33. No. 11. Pp. 1723-1728.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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