Distal clavicular osteolysis: a review of the literature

Bull NYU Hosp Jt Dis. 2008;66(2):94-101.


Acute distal clavicular osteolysis was first described in 1936. Since then, distal clavicular osteolysis (DCO) has been separated into traumatic and atraumatic pathogeneses. In 1982 the first series of male weight trainers who developed ADCO was reported. The association of weightlifting and ADCO is especially important considering how routine a component weights are to the male athlete's training. The pathogenesis of DCO has often been debated. The most widely accepted etiology involves a connection between microfractures of the subchondral bone and subsequent attempts at repair, which is consistent with repetitive microtrauma. Symptoms usually begin with an insidious aching pain in the AC region that is exacerbated by weight training. On examination, patients have point tenderness over the affected AC joint and pain with a cross-body adduction maneuver. Although DCO may seem like an easy and quick diagnosis, one must rule out other possibilities. Avoidance of provocative maneuvers, modification of weight training techniques, ice massage, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) constitute the basis of initial treatment. Much of the literature supports the same general indications for surgery. These include point tenderness of the AC joint, evident abnormal signs with AC joint scintigraphy and AC radiographs, lack of response to conservative treatment, and an unwillingness to give up or modify weight training or manual labor. Distal clavicle resection has provided good results. Distal clavicle osteolysis is a unique disease most likely due to an overuse phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acromioclavicular Joint / injuries
  • Arthroscopy
  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Clavicle / pathology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Humans
  • Osteolysis / diagnosis
  • Osteolysis / etiology
  • Osteolysis / pathology*
  • Osteolysis / therapy