“This information is meant only as a guide to help you understand and your treatment options. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a specialist Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. We strongly recommend a thorough discussion with your surgeon about the most appropriate treatment about your problem.” 

Shoulder Dislocation Treatment

Shoulder Dislocations

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. It is the body’s most mobile joint, which makes it susceptible to dislocation. A dislocated shoulder is an injury in which your upper arm bone (humeral head) or the “ball”, comes out of its shallow “socket” (glenoid) – which is a part of your shoulder blade.

Most dislocations occur through the front of the shoulder. In addition, soft tissue stabilisers that join the bones of your shoulder can be stretched or torn, often complicating the dislocation.

If you suspect a dislocated shoulder, seek medical attention immediately. With proper treatment, most people regain good shoulder function within a few weeks. However, once you’ve had a dislocated shoulder, it may become unstable and be prone to repeat dislocations. Click here to know more about Shoulder Anatomy

Shoulder Dislocations Symptoms

Dislocated shoulder signs and symptoms may include:

  • Severe pain around the shoulder
  • Inability to move the joint, any movement will cause severe pain
  • A visible deformity of the shoulder
  • Swelling or bruising around the shoulder or lower down

Shoulder Dislocations Causes

It takes a strong force, such as a sudden blow to your shoulder, to displace the bones out of existing position. Even an extreme rotation of your shoulder joint and can result in shoulder dislocations.

A dislocated shoulder is usually caused by an injury. This can be due to

  • Sports injuries. Shoulder dislocation is a common injury in contact sports, such as wrestling, martial arts, football, basketball and hockey, and in sports that may involve falls, such as gymnastics and volleyball.
  • Motor vehicle accidents – especially two wheeler accidents. A hard blow to your shoulder during a motor vehicle accident is a common source of dislocation.
  • Accidental falls. You may dislocate your shoulder during a fall, such as from a ladder or from tripping on a loose rug.

Sometimes, the shoulder can dislocate completely or partially without injury. This is because of generalised laxity of the ligaments. It can cause multiple dislocations, and can sometimes be voluntarily reduced by the patient. Your physiotherapist or surgeon will be able to assess and plan your treatment.


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Shoulder Dislocations Diagnosis

During the physical exam, your doctor will examine the affected area for tenderness, swelling, deformity or injury to nerves and blood vessels. He will order further tests depending on the clinical evaluation.

  • X-Ray alone is usually sufficient in an acute dislocation. It will show the dislocation and may reveal broken bones or other damage to your shoulder joint.
  • MRI will be needed in repeated dislocations to assess the soft tissue and bony damage (Hill-Sach’s and Bankart lesions)
  • CT scan also might be needed in dislocations to assess the extent of the bony damage to the socket and the shoulder joints

Shoulder Dislocation Treatment

Shoulder Dislocation Treatment May Involves

  • Closed reduction. Your doctor may try some gentle maneuvers to help your shoulder bones back into their proper positions. Depending on the amount of pain and swelling, you may need a muscle relaxant or sedative or, rarely, a general anesthetic before manipulation of your shoulder bones. When your shoulder bones are back in place, severe pain should improve almost immediately.
  • Immobilization. Your doctor advise a special splint or sling for a few days to rest your shoulder. How long you wear the splint or sling depends on the nature of your shoulder dislocation and how it responds to physiotherapy.
  • Medication. Your doctor might prescribe a pain reliever or a muscle relaxant to keep you comfortable while your shoulder heals.
  • Surgery. You may need immediate surgery if the dislocation cannot be corrected by closed means. Your surgeon may also recommend surgery at a later date, if there are repeated dislocations due to damaged soft tissues or bone.
  • Rehabilitation. After your shoulder splint or sling is removed, you’ll begin a gradual rehabilitation program designed to restore range of motion, strength and stability to your shoulder joint.

If you have a fairly simple shoulder dislocation without major nerve or tissue damage, your shoulder joint likely will improve over a few weeks, but you’ll be at increased risk for future dislocation. Resuming activity too soon after shoulder dislocation may cause you to injure your shoulder joint or to dislocate it again.

Looking to learn more about Sports Injury, Shoulder Fractures, Shoulder ArthritisFrozen Shoulder, Subacromial Impingement, Rotator Cuff Tears . Take a look at our Patient education guide

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