The sternoclavicular joint, also known as the SC joint, is a small joint that connects your collarbone (clavicle) to the chest bone (sternum). Sternoclavicular joint instability (dislocation) is a relatively rare problem, and is usually the result of direct trauma to this area. Occasionally, the joint can be put back into place by a physician while the patient is under anesthesia, but if the joint remains unstable despite this, then surgery may be necessary.
This surgery is known as sternoclavicular joint reconstruction, and is indicated if there is extensive damage to the ligaments that would normally stabilize the joint. This surgery restores stability to the sternoclavicular joint by using a tendon graft, typically a tendon allograft, which means it is tissue that comes from a donor. This tendon graft is passed through small drill holes in the bone and restores the connection between the clavicle and the sternum by doing so.
After surgery, a sling will be worn for six weeks, during which time there is no motion at the shoulder. The sling may be removed six weeks after surgery, at which time you may begin physical therapy for range of motion. After range of motion is regained, a progressive strengthening program is initiated. Typical recovery after this procedure is approximately six to nine months.