Ben Simmons – What happened to his right shoulder?

The Philadelphia guard has suffered a “sprained AC joint” in his right shoulder during the 76ers loss to the Utah Jazz last night. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday (ESPN).

Simmons appeared to injure his right shoulder in the first quarter after driving his right shoulder into the body of Jazz forward Royce O’Neale. He only played 10 minutes of the contest and went off grabbing at his right shoulder. He was seen testing his shoulder movement on the bench which appears to be a good sign.

The 76ers medical staff diagnosed Simmon’s injury as a sprained AC joint. The acromioclavicular joint connects a large bony prominence of the shoulder blade (acromion) to the collar bone (clavicle) at the shoulder. The function of the joint is to allow transmission of forces from the collarbone to the upper limb and permit increased movement of the shoulder blade, especially as arm movement occurs.

AC joint injuries are common in athletes who experience a force directly (as per Simmons) or fall onto the point of the shoulder. Based off Simmon’s reaction to the injury (mild to moderate pain) and his ability to move the shoulder whilst sitting on the bench (he could raise his arm above shoulder level before the onset of symptoms), his AC joint injury appears to suggest a mild type 1 injury – indicating sprain of the AC joint capsule, partial ligament tearing/stretching and localised tenderness/pain on movement.

AC joint sprains have different timelines for recovery based on severity and the structures affected. For Simmons, a sprained AC joint or type 1 injury will likely only take a few days to a week to recover unless the 76ers medical staff finds something more serious with imaging. Worst case scenario, more severe type 2 or 3 injuries can take 6 weeks to recover (unlikely). Unless major damage is found, we can expect Ben to get back on the court very soon and not shoot threes.

1. Brukner & Khan, 2015. Clinical Sports Medicine 5th ed

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