Dislocated Shoulder Overview

A dislocated shoulder is a shoulder injury in which the ball of the shoulder pops out of the cup-shaped socket. When that happens, the soft tissues, ligaments, and nerves around the ball may get damaged as well. Once the ball of the shoulder goes back in the socket, the soft tissues will still be injured. Therefore, the shoulder needs to be properly examined and adequately treated.

Causes of Dislocated Shoulder

The shoulder is the body’s most mobile joint, which allows for a very wide range of movements. This makes the shoulder joint very susceptible to dislocation as well as other injuries. Most often, a shoulder dislocation occurs when a patient experiences some type of trauma or forceful motion during exercise, sports, a fall, or another form of accident or injury. It is important to note that some patients are naturally more loose-jointed than others, which makes them more vulnerable and, thus, more susceptible to shoulder dislocation. Once a dislocated shoulder injury occurs, there is a probability that it will happen again.

Symptoms of Dislocated Shoulder

Shoulder dislocation is a painful injury that may cause a physically visible deformity. Other symptoms that patients may experience when they sustain this type of shoulder injury include swelling, bruising, numbness, weakness, tingling, and instability.

Treatment of Dislocated Shoulder

When a dislocated shoulder occurs, a physical exam will be performed in order to determine whether the shoulder is back in place. If it’s not, an orthopedic doctor will perform a reduction. After that, some imaging will be done, including an X-ray, and an MRI scan.  If the dislocated shoulder is chronic or has occurred more than once, a special type of MRI called an MR arthrogram should be performed. Depending on the results of the scans, an orthopedic doctor will develop the proper treatment strategy, and determine whether surgery is required. Usually, if a patient is over the age of 25-30, doesn’t perform a lot of sports, and has sustained a shoulder dislocation from a fall or an accident, conservative treatment that includes physical therapy and rehabilitation may be sufficient. In younger patients who are physically active and at risk for recurrent shoulder dislocations, then surgery may be recommended in order to restore normal motion and function, and repair any soft tissue damage.