Shoulder Dislocation


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The shoulder joint is a highly mobile joint that connects the upper arm bone (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula). It is a ball-and-socket joint, allowing for a wide range of motion and facilitating movements in multiple directions.

A dislocated shoulder occurs when the upper arm bone (humerus) pops out of the shoulder socket (glenoid). It is a common injury that can result from a fall, direct impact, or excessive force applied to the shoulder joint

Shoulder Dislocation Causes Symptoms & Treatment

Causes & Symptoms

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Because it moves in several directions, the shoulder can dislocate forward, backward or downward. It might dislocate completely or partially. Extreme twisting of the shoulder joint can pop the ball of the upper arm bone out of the shoulder socket. In a partial dislocation, the upper arm bone is partially in and partially out of the shoulder socket.

Causes of a dislocated shoulder include:

  • Sports injuries. Shoulder dislocation is a common injury in contact sports, such as football and hockey. It's also common in sports that might involve falls, such as downhill skiing, gymnastics and volleyball.
  • Trauma not related to sports. A hard blow to the shoulder during a motor vehicle accident can cause dislocation.
  • Falls. Landing awkwardly after a fall, such as from a ladder or from tripping on a loose rug, can dislocate a shoulder.

Get medical help right away for a shoulder that appears dislocated, the signs to look for are

  • Severe shoulder pain: The individual experiences intense pain in the shoulder area, often exacerbated by movement.
  • Visible deformity: The shoulder may appear visibly out of place or dislocated, with the rounded humeral head dislodged from the socket.
  • Swelling and bruising: The shoulder may swell and exhibit bruising around the joint.
  • Limited range of motion: The individual is unable to move the affected arm normally due to pain and instability.
  • Numbness or tingling: Nerve involvement or stretching during the dislocation can cause sensations of numbness or tingling in the arm or hand.


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It is important to seek medical assistance promptly for a dislocated shoulder and not try self diagnosis. The treatment might involve:

  • X-rays and evaluation: A physical examination & Xray’s will be performed to assess the extent of the injury and rule out associated fractures.
  • Closed reduction: In most cases, a procedure called closed reduction will be performed to guide the humeral head back into the socket. This is often done under local or general anesthesia.
  • Immobilization: After the shoulder has been reduced, the arm may be placed in a sling or immobilizer to support and protect the joint during the initial healing phase.
  • Rehabilitation: Once the initial pain and swelling subside, a rehabilitation program is initiated. This typically involves physical therapy exercises to restore range of motion, strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, and improve joint stability.
  • Follow-up care: Regular follow-up visits are important to monitor progress, ensure proper healing, and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.
  • Surgical intervention: In some cases, particularly when the dislocation is recurrent or associated with significant damage (such as fractures or torn ligaments), surgery may be recommended to repair the structures and stabilize the shoulder joint.
  • Every case of a dislocated shoulder is unique, and the treatment plan may vary based on individual circumstances