Epidemiology of acromioclavicular joint injuries in professional baseball: analysis from the Major League Baseball Health and Injury Tracking System

Travis Frantz, Prem N. Ramkumar, Salvatore Frangiamore, Grant Jones, Lonnie Soloff, Anton Kvit, Frank C. Curriero, Mark Schickendantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Shoulder injuries account for a large portion of all recorded injuries in professional baseball. Much is known about other shoulder pathologies in the overhead athlete, but the incidence and impact of acromioclavicular (AC) joint injuries in this population are unknown. We examined the epidemiology of AC joint injuries in Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players and determined the impact on time missed. Methods: The MLB Health and Injury Tracking System was used to compile records of all MLB and MiLB players from 2011 to 2017 with documented AC joint injuries. These injuries were classified as acute (sprain or separation) or chronic (AC joint arthritis or distal clavicular osteolysis), and associated data extracted included laterality, date of injury, player position, activity, mechanism of injury, length of return to play, and need for surgical intervention. Results: A total of 312 AC joint injuries (183 in MiLB players and 129 in MLB players; range, 39-60 per year) were recorded: 201 acute (64.4%) and 111 chronic (35.6%). A total of 81% of acute and 59% of chronic injuries resulted in time missed, with a mean length of return to play of 21 days for both. Of the injuries in outfielders, 79.6% were acute (P <.0001), as were 66.3% of injuries in infielders (P =.004). Pitchers and catchers had more equal proportions of acute and chronic AC injuries (P >.05 for all). Acute AC injuries occurred most often while fielding (n = 100, 84.7%), running (n = 25, 80.6%), and hitting (n = 19, 61.3%), whereas chronic injuries tended to be more common while pitching (n = 26, 68.4%). Of contact injuries, 82.5% were acute (P <.0001), whereas 59.0% of noncontact injuries were chronic (P =.047). MLB players showed consistently higher regular-season rates of both acute and chronic AC injuries than MiLB players (P <.0001 for each). Conclusion: Acute AC joint injuries are contact injuries occurring most commonly among infielders and outfielders while fielding that result in 3 weeks missed before return to play, whereas chronic AC joint injuries occur more commonly in pitchers and catchers from noncontact repetitive overhead activity. Knowledge of these data can better guide expectation management in this elite population to better elucidate the prevalence of 2 common injury patterns in the AC joint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • AC joint
  • AC joint arthritis
  • AC separation
  • AC sprain
  • Case Series
  • Epidemiology Study
  • Level IV
  • distal clavicular osteolysis
  • overhead athlete

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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