Sternoclavicular Joint Dislocation
The NFL season openers were riddled with many injuries, including Kansas City’s wide receiver Tyreek Hill who was injured late in the first half of the game, never returning. He was tackled on a pass reception from Patrick Mahomes and was landed on directly by his defender. He suffered a posterior sternoclavicular joint dislocation and was taken off of the field and to a hospital for further treatment.
While this injury is not common, it can be very serious. The sternoclavicular (or SC joint) is located near the base of the neck where the sternum and the clavicle meet. The SC joint is different from most joints in the body due to its limited amount of movement and is stabilized only by ligaments.
Directly behind the SC joint are large blood vessels, the lung, and the heart. Due to the injury to these structures, posterior dislocations can be a life-threatening emergency, and that is why Tyreek Hill was taken directly to the emergency room from Sunday’s game.
How It Happened
A SC joint dislocation occurs from high energy collisions typically in a sporting event or motor vehicle collision. The SC joint can dislocate anteriorly (forward) or, in the case of Hill, posteriorly (backwards).
There are 3 classifications of posterior SC joint dislocations ranging from the least severe to the most severe (Grade I through Grade III). These injuries are often treated non-operatively with a closed reduction(relocation) and immobilization with a figure 8 style brace. If a closed reduction is not possible, or if vessels, lung, or heart are involved, there are surgical techniques available, though these are less common.
There have also been reports of late-appearing complications involving the trachea, esophagus, and great vessels which can be life threatening. These complications are rare, with most appearing immediately following the injury.
In the case of Tyreek Hill, he has not been placed on the injured reserve, and his progress will be assessed weekly. With the schedule looking tougher towards the end of the season, Chiefs fans hope for a full return to the offense.
Author: Robin Dodd, MS, LAT, ATC
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