Sternoclavicular Separation

Sternoclavicular SeparationSternoclavicular separation takes place when the joint is dislocated from its normal position. This is when the clavicle will dislocate in front of or behind of the sternum.  This type of dislocation can be dangerous due to the fact that there are important structures that are located behind the sternum.

If it is a posterior dislocation, it can be a little bit more dangerous due to the really important structures that are located right behind the sternum. These are structures that include important blood vessels, as well as the windpipe. If these areas are damaged, it can lead to many problems which are life-threatening, as the breathing and the flow of blood would be affected. If there is a dislocation in the SC joint, it is usually a result of a shoulder injury. It is very common that the outside of the shoulder or the front of the shoulder have somehow been forcefully struck, and that is when the anterior dislocation will occur. There are many cases in which a blunt force to the front of the individual’s chest can cause this.

This can be seen through an x-ray, although there are many different ways to visualize this joint by changing the ways that the x-ray is performed. If it appears to be injured, then a CAT scan is usually performed to evaluate this type of dislocation. A patient who is suffering from posterior SC joint dislocation is likely to experience a little bit of dimpling over the SC joint skin site. There may also be some swelling and pain in this area and there are many patients who may have a hard time breathing or swallowing. If there is an abnormal pulse that may also be a symptom due to the compression that is caused by the trachea as well as the blood vessels.

If there is a minor sprain to the SC joint then it can simply be treated with anti-inflammatory medications. If the joint is dislocated completely, then it may have to be repositioned (or a reduction of the joint needs to take place.) This would happen by there being an attempt to sedate the patient by pulling on their arm gently. This may also allow the joint to pop back into its original position. This is a joint that does not necessarily need to be positioned perfectly for long-term results either.


There is surgery that can be done so that the SC joint can be relocated, and this is sometimes considered if it is the posterior SC dislocation. There may or may not be some painful symptoms in the anterior location. If they are not successful in using the non – surgical repositioning of the joint after Sternoclavicular Separation then surgery may have to be done in order to relocate that joint and to repair the ligaments that have been damaged.