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AC Joint Impingement Overview

The acromioclavicular joint (AC joint) is a critical area of the shoulder that connects the collarbone (clavicle) to the top of the outer edge of your shoulder blade (acromion). AC joint impingement is a condition where the space beneath the acromion bone is narrowed. This narrowing can cause inflammation and irritation of the rotator cuff tendons, muscles, and bursa in the shoulder area, which leads to pain or tenderness.

The narrowing of the space beneath the acromion bone can be caused by various issues, including weak rotator cuff muscles, structural problems of the acromion, arthritis, and calcified coracoacromial ligament (which are located between the acromion and the coracoid process). These conditions can be caused by various factors, such as age-related wear and tear, overuse of the joint or shoulder, or injury.

Symptoms Of AC Joint Impingement

AC joint impingement can cause a variety of symptoms, which can interfere with your daily life and activities, such as:

  • Pain or tenderness when moving your shoulder 
  • Sharp pain when you press near the AC joint 
  • Difficulty moving your arm or shoulder in certain positions 
  • Weakness in your shoulder muscles, which makes performing everyday tasks even more challenging
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Conventional Treatment Options

Once AC joint impingement is diagnosed, most traditional doctors will prescribe conventional treatment based on the severity of the condition. The following are some of the more common conventional treatment options for AC joint impingement:

Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are one of the most common ways to treat any kind of muscle or joint pain. The injection is designed to reduce inflammation and decrease the amount of pain associated with AC joint impingement. The problem with this form of treatment is that it requires multiple injections over time to maintain the beneficial effects. However, long-term use can have drawbacks, such as high blood pressure and osteoporosis.


NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly prescribed to help reduce pain and inflammation. Some common NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen. However, long-term use of NSAIDs can lead to side effects, which may include stomach ulcers, kidney damage, and increased blood pressure.


Also known as shoulder decompression surgery, acromioplasty is a surgical procedure where the bone tissue in contact with the tendon causing friction is removed, creating more room for the muscles and tendons. However, it is a major surgery that requires a lengthy recovery period with physical therapy afterward. Like any invasive surgical procedure, acromioplasty comes with a risk of complications, such as infection, nerve damage, and decreased shoulder mobility.

 AC Joint Resection Surgery

This is a more invasive form of shoulder surgery, where a portion of the end of the collarbone and/or acromion bone is removed to create more space for the shoulder joint. Like acromioplasty, there are risks associated with this kind of treatment, such as decreased range of motion or nerve damage.

What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma, Or PRP?

Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, is a natural treatment option that uses the body’s own healing power to treat injuries and inflammation. Platelets are blood cells that contain growth factors and proteins that can help to stimulate the body’s natural healing process. PRP solutions are typically created by collecting a sample of the patient’s blood and spinning it in a bedside centrifuge to separate out the plasma. This concentrated form of platelets can then be injected into the area where needed, to help speed up healing.

PRP is shown to be a safe alternative to more conventional treatments because it uses your own blood, so there is no risk of a reaction. It’s commonly used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, such as tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and joint pain.

PRP For AC Joint Impingement

Because AC joint impingement can be caused by damage to the rotator cuff tendons and the coracoacromial ligament, PRP can be used to help promote healing in those specific areas. The growth factors and proteins that are found in PRP can help reduce inflammation, stimulate tissue regeneration, and improve overall joint function as a result.

Why Are Orthagenex PRP Injections Superior?

PRP therapy may not be a conventional treatment solution, but it is a common alternative for treating musculoskeletal conditions. Even though PRP solutions are created using the patient’s own blood, not all PRP injections are the same. At Orthagenex, our PRP injections are superior to most, due to our ability to create more effective PRP solutions and deliver them more safely and effectively.

The following are examples of the advanced techniques and technology we use to provide superior PRP treatments:

Image-Guidance To Place PRP Solutions

The way PRP solutions are injected into the affected area plays an important role in how effective the treatment is. If the PRP is not injected correctly, it can lead to less effective therapy or even complications. Unfortunately, many PRP providers use blind injections to place PRP. Doing so means that the PRP is injected without any guidance.

At Orthagenex, we use state-of-the-art image guidance technology such as MSK ultrasound and fluoroscopy to ensure that the PRP solutions are placed in exactly the right spot. This significantly increases the accuracy of the injections and helps us create more targeted treatments so you can get the best possible results.

Lab-Processed For Higher Concentrations of Platelets

At Orthagenex, we understand the importance of personalizing each PRP therapy treatment. That’s why our PRP solutions are lab-processed, so we can customize and adjust each patient’s PRP solution according to their specific needs and requirements. This helps us create higher concentrations of platelets, leading to more effective treatments and better patient outcomes.

As a result, our PRP solutions have anywhere from 10 to 30 times as many platelets as those processed in traditional bedside centrifuges. This allows us to create different types of PRP solutions based on patients’ specific needs. For example, using our lab platform, we can create amber PRP and next-generation platelet lysate (PL) solutions.

Amber PRP vs. Red PRP

When a PRP solution is processed in a bedside centrifuge, it contains a high concentration of red and white blood cells, making the solution less effective. This is because red and white blood cells have been shown to trigger inflammation, which can counteract the effectiveness of the PRP treatment.

At Orthagenex, we use our lab platform to create amber PRP solutions, which have fewer red and white blood cells and higher concentrations of platelets. This helps reduce inflammation while also maximizing the benefits of PRP treatment.

Next-Generation Platelet Lysate

PL solutions are even less likely to trigger an inflammatory response than amber PRP. Additionally, PL injections result in the immediate release of the solution’s growth factors, whereas PRP injections consist of time-released growth factors (usually released over the course of a week). This means that PL injections can have a more immediate impact.

At Orthagenex, we often recommend PL injections for patients with musculoskeletal issues near the spine. This is because we’ll want to reduce the risk of a potential inflammatory response near the spinal cord and its delicate nerve fibers.

PRP Customized To Every Patient’s Need

Almost every PRP solution will be different by nature of the fact that it’s produced from the patient’s own blood. However, at Orthagenex, we take this one step further and customize each solution for each patient’s individual needs. The following are a few ways that we customize our PRP treatment:

Treatments Are Customized Using Lab-Processed PRP Solutions

As mentioned, we use a lab platform to process our PRP solutions. This means that we can customize each PRP solution by removing components (such as red and white blood cells) that are unnecessary or could negatively affect the treatment results. Our ability to customize each PRP treatment is one of the reasons why our PRP solutions have a higher concentration of platelets than those processed in bedside centrifuges.

Bone Marrow Concentrate Can Be Used

We will often combine our PRP treatments with bone marrow concentrate. This is because bone marrow concentrate contains mesenchymal stem cells, so combining it with PRP can create a synergistic effect that helps stimulate faster tissue regeneration and healing.

Doctors Specializing In Interventional Orthopedics

Our doctors are more qualified to provide superior PRP treatments than many other providers. This is because our team is comprised of board-certified and fellowship-trained interventional orthopedics physicians, meaning they have advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions using minimally invasive techniques.

In fact, only 1% of physicians in the United States are fellowship-trained in interventional orthopedics. That’s why we have an unmatched level of expertise in providing PRP treatments and delivering superior results for our patients.

Core Competencies

In addition to customizing PRP treatments based on each patient’s individual needs, our orthopedic doctors also have core competencies in areas such as the use of image guidance to place injectates and SANS (stability, articulation, neuromuscular, and symmetry) evaluations, which allow us to accurately diagnose a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries. These core competencies help us provide a higher level of care for our patients, ensuring they get the most effective treatments possible.


Orthagenex – Your Alternative To AC Joint Impingement Surgery

At Orthagenex, we provide our patients with an effective, non-invasive alternative to traditional AC joint impingement surgery. Our PRP therapy treatments are tailored to each individual, and thanks to our state-of-the-art image guidance technology and laboratory platform, we can customize each solution for maximum effectiveness.

If you suffer from AC joint impingement, don’t wait any longer. Contact Orthagenex today to learn more about our PRP therapy treatments.

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