Shoulder Dislocations

How to know if your Shoulder is Dislocated?

A shoulder is dislocated when the ball of the shoulder joint is forced out of its socket, generally after a trauma. It results in shoulder pain, makes the shoulder look odd, and restricts the range of shoulder movement. Individuals with these symptoms will likely need immediate orthopaedic attention to have the dislocation reduced, so the joint sits in its correct position.

Shoulder dislocations can be partial (known as a subluxation) or complete and vary in their degree and direction. Treatment usually depends on both of these factors.

Traumatic Shoulder Dislocation

A traumatic dislocated shoulder most commonly presents with complete inability to move the arm, and severe pain or numbness from the shoulder to the forearm. The shoulder loses its rounded appearance, and usually protrudes forward (anterior dislocation) or, less frequently, backward (posterior dislocation). A tear in the cartilage and ligaments can destabilize the shoulder and lead to recurrent dislocations.

Partially Dislocated Shoulder (Subluxed shoulder)

A partially dislocated shoulder will cause intense pain and clicking. While a subluxing shoulder will usually slip back into place, it may result in severe pain and a feeling of instability.

How Do You Treat a Dislocated Shoulder?

If you experience ongoing pain after the dislocated shoulder has been reduced (put back into place by carefully pulling on the shoulder in the right direction), you will most likely require x-rays and an MRI to closely assess the bone, cartilage and ligaments. If a tear of the stabilizing cartilage and ligaments is found, your orthopaedic surgeon will likely recommend minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. But if the shoulder hasn’t sustained significant structural damage, immobilization of the shoulder and physiotherapy might be the best conservative alternative.



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