Diagnosis and Management of Distal Clavicle Osteolysis

Orthopedics. 2017 Mar 1;40(2):119-124. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20161128-03. Epub 2016 Dec 7.


Distal clavicle osteolysis is an uncommon condition that most commonly affects weight lifters and other athletes who perform repetitive overhead activity. Although this condition most commonly presents in young active men, it is becoming increasing more common in women with the rise in popularity of body building and extreme athletics. Distal clavicle osteolysis can be debilitating, especially in those with rigorous training regimens, preventing exercise because of pain with activities such as bench presses and chest flies. Aside from a careful history and physical examination, radiographic evaluation is essential in distinguishing isolated distal clavicle osteolysis from acromioclavicular joint pathology, despite a potentially similar presentation of the 2 conditions. Nonoperative therapy that includes activity modification, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and cortisone injections is the first-line management for this condition. Patients whose conditions are refractory to nonoperative modalities may benefit from distal clavicle resection via either open or arthroscopic techniques. Arthroscopic techniques typically are favored because of improved cosmesis and the added benefit of the ability to assess the glenohumeral joint during surgery to rule out concomitant pathology. There are varying operative techniques even within arthroscopic management, with pros and cons of a direct and an indirect surgical approach. Patients often do well after such procedures and are able to return to their preinjury level of participation in a relatively short period. [Orthopedics. 2017; 40(2):119-124.].

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthroscopy
  • Clavicle* / diagnostic imaging
  • Clavicle* / physiopathology
  • Clavicle* / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Osteolysis / diagnosis*
  • Osteolysis / etiology
  • Osteolysis / physiopathology
  • Osteolysis / therapy
  • Physical Examination
  • Weight Lifting


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents