What is a shoulder dislocation?

A shoulder dislocation is when the top of the arm (the humerus) comes out of the socket of the shoulder. The majority of shoulder dislocations occur anteriorly, where the bone comes forward from the joint socket. Shoulder dislocations can damage the labrum (cartilage) of the shoulder, fracture of the humeral head or glenoid (socket), and sometimes cause axillary nerve damage.

How is it diagnosed?

Patients typically report falling onto an outstretched arm with some force and describe feeling the shoulder popping out. Some people with increased ligamentous laxity are more prone to dislocations under less traumatic conditions. There will be an obvious deformity of the shoulder with a loss of the normal smooth contour of the shoulder. It is important to get the shoulder reduced as soon as possible. Ideally, the shoulder is x-rayed before the reduction is performed to rule out any fractures. Patients are normally required to wear a sling and follow the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) treatment protocol.

How is it treated?

Depending on pain levels and the severity of injury, range of motion exercises are commenced as soon as able. Your Physiotherapist will give you exercises for strengthening of stabilising muscles of the shoulder. This is important in rehabilitation in order to limit the risk of recurring shoulder dislocations and to restore strength in the shoulder. However, if a shoulder dislocation occurs in a young athlete or if the dislocations become recurrent, it is often advised that stabilisation surgery is performed.

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If you are looking for a rehabilitation programme or some guidance after a shoulder dislocation, give Ergoworks a call today.

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