Distal clavicle osteolysis is a condition that affects mainly weightlifters, but it can affect athletes in sports that use the upper extremities. It is a painful condition that develops over time rather than with one specific injury. It occurs at the end of the clavicle (collarbone), as it joins with the tip of the shoulder blade at the acromioclavicular joint (the joint involved in shoulder separations). The bone at the end of the clavicle becomes less dense, and the AC joint becomes more painful.

Location of pain with distal clavicle osteolysis

Signs and symptoms of distal clavicle osteolysis

Typically the weightlifter will complain of pain on the front of the shoulder. Often he will complain of pain with weightlifting activities that compress the joint, such as bench press and military press. A sports medicine physician can often localize the pain by pressing the end of the clavicle at the AC joint. Having the athlete raise his arm across his body, such as touching the opposite shoulder, can increase the pain. X-rays will often show that the clavicle is less dense at its tip where it joins the AC joint. An MRI can be helpful in cases where x-rays are not definitive.

Also read:
Distal clavicle osteolysis: A common shoulder injury for weightlifters and many workers
Distal clavicle osteolysis of the shoulder

Treatment of distal clavicle osteolysis

Typically initial treatment is nonoperative. Short-term rest from weightlifting, anti-inflammatory medications, and ice can be helpful. If symptoms return, or the athlete has difficulty stopping the offending activities, an injection of cortisone into the AC joint can be attempted. If symptoms persist despite these attempts at nonoperative treatment, surgery to cut off the end of the clavicle usually resolves the symptoms. Return to weightlifting and other activities is variable, but after surgery the athlete can usually return in a few months with no long-term disability.

I want to help you! Please take a few seconds to share the biggest challenge or struggle you’re facing with your injury! Click here!

Recommended Products and Resources
Click here to go to Dr. David Geier’s Amazon Influencer store!
Due to a large number of questions I have received over the years asking about products for health, injuries, performance, and other areas of sports, exercise, work and life, I have created an Amazon Influencer page. While this information and these products are not intended to treat any specific injury or illness you have, they are products I use personally, have used or have tried, or I have recommended to others. THE SITE MAY OFFER HEALTH, FITNESS, NUTRITIONAL AND OTHER SUCH INFORMATION, BUT SUCH INFORMATION IS DESIGNED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE CONTENT DOES NOT AND IS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY MEDICAL ADVICE AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE. YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR, NOR DOES IT REPLACE, PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. THE SITE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACTIONS OR INACTION ON A USER’S PART BASED ON THE INFORMATION THAT IS PRESENTED ON THE SITE. Please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.