The purpose of this study was to assess the results of acute grade I and II acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprains treated by conservative measures. Between 1993 and 1997, 37 consecutive patients were treated conservatively for AC joint sprains, grade I and II in the Tossy classification. Of these patients, 4 were excluded (three lost to follow-up and one sustained a further AC injury), leaving a series of 33 patients. Among them, in 9 (27%), chronic AC joint pathology that required subsequent surgery developed at a mean of 26 months after injury. The remaining 24 were reviewed clinically and radiologically at a mean of 6.3 years (range, 4-8 years) after injury. At the latest follow-up, 17 of the 33 patients (52%) remained asymptomatic. Of the 24 patients reviewed, 7 complained of activity-related pain. Eight patients presented with residual anteroposterior instability. Tenderness at the AC joint as well as a positive cross-body test was observed in 12 patients. The mean Constant score at follow-up was 82 points. The x-ray films showed degenerative changes in 13 patients, ossification of the coracoclavicular ligaments in 2, an association of degenerative changes with ossification of the coracoclavicular ligaments in 3, and distal clavicular osteolysis in 3. Only 4 cases had no radiographic changes after this kind of AC injury. On the basis of these results, we conclude that the severity of the consequences after grade I and II AC sprains is underestimated.

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