The sternoclavicular joint is located at the base of the neck, connects the sternum (breastbone) and clavicle (collarbone), and supports the shoulders.
Similar to any other joint, injuries are always possible, and although uncommon, the sternoclavicular joint can become dislocated.
A sternoclavicular joint dislocation injury refers to trauma that has forced these bones out of their proper place.
It can be caused by a major blow to the joint. For example, those who play contact sports, such as soccer and football, could suffer a sternoclavicular joint dislocation if they are hit too hard, collide, or perhaps fall, forcibly. Another cause can be an automobile accident.
As described in an April 2016 report shared by the U.S. National Library of Science: “Dislocations of the sternoclavicular joint (SCJ) occur with relative infrequency and can be classified into anterior and posterior dislocation, with the former being more common.”
“Dislocation of the SCJ is often not an isolated event and may be due to other structural causes than trauma," it continues. "It can therefore be thought of as instability, which can be acute, recurrent or persistent.”
There are two classifications for joint dislocations—anterior and posterior—along with several associated symptoms. The most common symptom of sternoclavicular joint dislocation injury is joint pain in that area of the body. Others include swelling and bruising, limited range of arm motion, and/or a grinding sound when attempting to move the arm.
“Those with anterior dislocations of the SCJ will complain of a painful lump just lateral to the sternum,” the report adds. “Posterior dislocations present with medial clavicular pain but also may present with compressive symptoms such as dyspnoea [shortness of breath] or dysphagia [difficulty swallowing] or with vascular and neurological compromise.”
While sternoclavicular joint dislocations are uncommon, the report notes they “may result from direct trauma as an acute occurrence or in the more persistent case of atraumatic structural instability or non structural abnormal muscle patterning.”
Consequently, treatment is extremely important.
Every injury, even those falling under the same category, varies from patient to patient. Two people could dislocate a sternoclavicular joint, but require different treatment methods to successfully recover.
Another 2016 review, for instance, also shared by the U.S. National Library of Science, examined two cases of sternoclavicular joint dislocation. While one patient needed surgery, the other didn’t.
Sternoclavicular joint dislocation injuries are serious. A posterior dislocation could compress vital organs and structures behind it and consequently affect blood flow and/or respiration.
If you believe you or someone you know has suffered a sternoclavicular joint dislocation injury, seek professional medical attention right away.
The Northport Wellness Center has developed an advanced spine and joint recovery program to help our patients heal as quickly as possible. Contact Us today to learn more about this customized treatment plan.