Derek Carr, the New Orleans Saints QB1, is said to have sprained his right AC joint after a hit against the Packers this past Sunday.

So what is the AC Joint? The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is where the acromion process of the scapula and the clavicle meet and is supported by the acromioclavicular ligament. The AC joint helps with stabilization of scapulothoracic movement and part of the shoulder complex. Movements it helps with includes:

⁃ shoulder flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction

⁃ Scapular protraction and retraction

⁃ Scapular upward and downward rotation

An AC joint sprain is common in sports and especially with forceful contact to the shoulder. It can also be described as a Grade 1 AC joint separation, but the AC ligament and joint don’t actually separate. The AC joint and ligament in Carr’s case was most likely overstretched without significant dislocation or tear.

Common symptoms for an AC joint sprain are:

⁃     pain at front or top of shoulder

⁃     swelling

⁃     muscle tightness

⁃     decreased shoulder ROM

Physical Therapists can help with this type of injury by:

⁃     using manual therapy techniques to reduce pain and inflammation

⁃     provide shoulder mobility activities

⁃     promote shoulder stabilization to help prevent re-injury

How does this injury affect Derek Carr? Well that depends on how much he can handle pain, how his shoulder mobility is, and if he feels capable to perform his duties as a quarterback. There is no tear and this injury does not require surgery. Although, on average, this injury can take up to 4-6 weeks for full healing to occur. So Carr can technically play if he is feeling good, but has to be aware of not pushing too hard and too fast due to possibility of re- injury.

Published September 29, 2023 | Posted in NFL Injury Spotlight.