Brett Favre’s amazing string of consecutive games played has ended. Favre had started 297 consecutive regular-season games, 321 counting playoff games! What caused his streak to end? A string of interceptions that forced his coach to bench him? No. A concussion after getting sacked on the turf? No. A torn ACL or Rotator Cuff? Nope. It was a sprain to his sternoclavicular joint. You have never heard that before? Thats OK, many have not. It is not the same injury as a shoulder dislocation. It is also not quite the same injury as what many people call a shoulder separation, that is the acromio-clavicular joint (AC Joint).
The sternoclavicular joint is where the clavicle, or collarbone, meets the sternum. There are two joints on the left and right side of the sternum. It is a saddle joint which allows the clavicle to move backward and forward as well as to raise up and down. A particularly strong ligament called the costoclavicular ligament attatches the clavicle to the cartilage of the first rib, making the joint very stable
So how do you sprain the SC joint? A dislocation or sprain can occur when a person lands with one shoulder on the ground and the other shoulder is struck from above. With a quarterback, this can happen when getting sacked or tackled from the side. The end of the clavicle becomes separated from the joint, being pushed down and to the front. The joint can either dislocate or stretch the ligamentous support.
When suffering from a SC Joint injury, an athlete will have pain and swelling near the collarbone and sternum. Treatment for this injury includes anti-inflamatory and allowing the joint to recover while placing the arm in a sling. Rehab specialists can assist in pain relief and regaining range of motion to speed up the recovery process. Although rare, surgery may be required to repair the joint.