The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body and has the ability to move in many directions. While this can be advantageous, it also leaves the shoulder vulnerable to injuries, including shoulder dislocations. In fact, the shoulder is the most commonly dislocated joint in the body.

What is a shoulder dislocation?

Shoulder dislocations can either be partial (subluxation) or a complete dislocation. A partial dislocation occurs when the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is partially out of the shoulder socket (glenoid fossa), whereas the upper arm bone is fully out of the socket in a complete dislocation.

A shoulder can dislocate forward, backward or downward. Anterior dislocation, where the upper arm bone detaches from the shoulder socket and pushes forward, is the most common type of shoulder dislocation accounting for 98% of shoulder dislocations.
Shoulder dislocation symptoms

A full or partially dislocated shoulder is generally very painful. Nausea, vomiting, light headedness or sweating are not uncommon symptoms as a result of the pain and discomfort a dislocation causes. You should also look out for these symptoms:

  • swelling
  • weakness
  • difficulty moving your arm
  • muscle spasm in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint
  • numbness, or a pins-and-needles feeling in your arm
  • a squared off appearance to the shoulder

If you suspect you have a dislocated shoulder its critical to seek medical attention immediately.

Shoulder dislocation treatments

A doctor will examine your shoulder and often order an x-ray to diagnose a shoulder dislocation.
Once a shoulder dislocation has been diagnosed, the physician will treat the dislocation by placing the ball of the upper arm bone back into the joint socket. This is called a closed reduction. There are a variety of methods that can be used for a closed reduction and it depends on the injury, patient and the experience of the doctor.

After the humerus is back in the place, the doctor will likely immobilize your arm in a sling or support device to allow your shoulder joint to rest and recover.

Shoulder dislocation rehabilitation

Rehabilitation for a shoulder dislocation is crucial. Once a shoulder has been dislocated, the joint is more susceptible to repeat dislocations.

Working with an orthopedic doctor is important for follow up care and treatment. Depending on how severe the injury is, there may be a need for surgery – an orthopedic doctor will be able to advise if there is a need for surgery to repair the damaged joint and conduct the procedure.

Physical therapy is another important component of rehabilitation for the shoulder joint. After the pain and swelling go down, you can begin exercises to help restore a full range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint. Your doctor and physical therapist can create a treatment plan that is right for you.

OCPBC and injury care

If you are suffering from shoulder injuries, please contact us. We are highly experienced with injury care and have treated thousands of patients suffering from similar injuries. We have three different locations in South Florida and you can reach us at 561-967-6500.