Shoulder Dislocation: Know The Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Shoulder Dislocation: Know The Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

A fall or blow to the shoulder can cause a dislocated shoulder. The shoulder is the body joint that dislocates most quickly due to its mobility and ball-in-socket mechanism. But what exactly is a dislocated shoulder? Why does it happen without prior notice? Read on for more information.

When the spherical ball at the top of the upper arm bone, or humerus, dislocates from the shoulder blade or scapula socket, this is referred to as a shoulder dislocation. This indicates that the humeral ball and socket bones of the shoulder are dislocated.

Injuries frequently occur to the tissues that hold the bones together, including the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that attach the shoulder bone to the shoulder blade. Additionally, cartilage, a rubbery substance that covers and protects the ends of bones, can tear. A partially dislocated shoulder, also known as a shoulder subluxation, occurs when only the upper arm bone is out of place.

The front of the shoulder dislocates most frequently. Shoulder ligaments can be strained or damaged, frequently making dislocation worse. Ligaments are the connective tissue that holds the bones together.

Know the symptoms of a shoulder dislocation

Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include:

Shoulder dislocation can also result in numbness, weakness, or tingling in the area surrounding the injury, such as the neck or down the arm. The muscles in the shoulder may spasm, exacerbating the pain.

What causes dislocation of the shoulder?

The joint that dislocates the most in the body is the shoulder. The shoulder can dislocate forward, backward, or downward due to its several directions of motion. Either a full or partial dislocation could occur. A dislocated shoulder can result from various factors, such as:

Sports injuries:

The shoulder can dislocate in contact sports like football and hockey. Moreover, it is common in sports like volleyball, gymnastics, and downhill skiing, where there may be injuries.

Injuries unrelated to sports:

During a vehicle accident, a severe impact to the shoulder may result in dislocation.


A dislocated shoulder can result from a clumsy landing following a fall, such as from a ladder or by tripping over a loose rug.

How can shoulder dislocation be diagnosed and treated?

A medical professional examines the affected area to check for symptoms of nerve or blood vessel injury and discomfort, edema, or deformity. The dislocation may be visible on an X-ray of the shoulder joint, which may also reveal shattered bones or other shoulder joint injuries.

Treatment for a dislocated shoulder might involve:

Closed reduction:

Some gentle manipulations may help shift the shoulder bones back into place during this treatment. Depending on the severity of the discomfort and swelling, a muscle relaxant, sedative, or, in rare cases, general anesthesia may be administered before manipulating the shoulder bones. When the shoulder bones are replaced, the severe pain will reduce almost immediately.


Those who experience frequent shoulder dislocations despite strengthening and rehabilitation may recover from surgery if their shoulder joints or ligaments are weak. Rarely, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged blood vessels or nerves. In young athletes, surgical intervention may also lower their chance of re-injury


After closed reduction, the shoulder can be prevented from moving for a few weeks by donning a specialized splint or sling.


While the shoulder heals, a painkiller or a muscle relaxant may make patients more comfortable.


A rehabilitation program can help regain the shoulder joint's range of motion, strength, and stability once the splint or sling is no longer required.

Over a few weeks, a relatively minor shoulder dislocation without significant nerve or tissue injury should improve. Before resuming regular activities, one must have regained strength, a pain-free range of motion, and a full range of motion. The shoulder joint could become re-injured if exercise is resumed too soon after a shoulder dislocation.

Do all shoulder dislocations need surgery?

Surgery is not always necessary for shoulder dislocations. In some cases, non-surgical treatments like physical therapy are useful in controlling the loose capsule and abnormal muscle balance of the rotator cuff and shoulder blade.

An exercise regimen to aid in shoulder strengthening can be created with the assistance of a qualified physiotherapist. Surgery, however, might be a better option for people who suffer from chronic pain and a perception of joint instability as a result of an injury.

When doing minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, also known as keyhole surgery, injured structures can be moved back onto the socket using anchors. It is commonly referred to as "laser surgery," despite not using lasers. After this procedure, the arm should be rested for 4-5 weeks while performing particular activities to prevent stressing the healing components. In some cases, the shoulder's ball and socket bones may be injured, necessitating additional surgeries. A bone transfer surgery may be used to add additional support if there has been a large loss of bone.


A dislocated shoulder is more likely to feel unstable or dislocated again after the initial injury. Additionally, each successive injury makes the shoulder more susceptible to dislocation. The set of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint are more prone to rupture in older individuals who have had shoulder dislocations. If the issue worsens and becomes chronic, a brace may be helpful.

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