A sternoclavicular dislocation is an uncommon but painful shoulder injury of the sternoclavicular joint that can occur in contact and collision sports. Watch this video to learn more about an SC joint injury and the treatment of a sternoclavicular dislocation.

Mechanism of injury

The athlete is injured with a direct blow, either to the chest or shoulder. Depending on the direction of the force, a blow to the shoulder can cause an anterior or posterior sternoclavicular dislocation.

Types of sternoclavicular dislocations

An anterior dislocation of this joint involves the clavicle popping out in front of the sternum. A posterior dislocation involves the clavicle displacing behind the sternum.

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Sternoclavicular dislocation

Treatment of the sternoclavicular dislocation

While both types of dislocations are very serious, a posterior dislocation can be a surgical emergency, as the end of the clavicle becomes extremely close to the airway and large blood vessels of the heart and chest.

Treatment of a sternoclavicular dislocation depends on the direction of injury.

An anterior dislocation usually leaves only a cosmetic deformity. Little long-term functional deficit exists after the athlete has recovered.

A posterior dislocation, on the other hand, needs urgent reduction, either in the emergency room or the operating room. The clavicle needs to be reduced back into place with the sternum to prevent the clavicle from causing injury to the blood vessels and airway nearby.

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