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Background: Shoulder pain secondary to acromioclavicular joint pain is a common presentation in primary and secondary care but is often poorly managed as a result of uncertainty about optimal treatment strategies. Osteoarthritis is the commonest cause. Although acromioclavicular pain can be treated non-operatively and operatively, there appears to be no consensus on the best practice pathway of care for these patients, with variations in treatment being common place. The present study comprises a scoping review of the current published evidence for the management of isolated acromioclavicular pain (excluding acromioclavicular joint dislocation). Methods: A comprehensive search strategy was utilized in multiple medical databases to identify level 1 and 2 randomised controlled trials, nonrandomised controlled trials and systematic reviews for appraisal. Results: Four systematic reviews and two randomised controlled trials were identified. No direct studies have compared the benefits or risks of conservative versus surgical management in a controlled environment. Conclusions: High-level studies on treatment modalities for acromioclavicular joint pain are limited. As such, there remains little evidence to support one intervention or treatment over another, making it difficult to develop any evidenced-based patient pathways of care for this condition.Level of evidence: 2A.

Original publication




Journal article


Shoulder elbow

Publication Date





4 - 14


acromioclavicular joint, arthroscopic surgery, corticosteroid injection, distal clavicular excision, pain