Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Shoulder Dislocation

A shoulder dislocation is when the upper arm bone (humerus) comes out of the shoulder joint socket (glenoid). It is the most frequently dislocated major joint in the body.

Common Symptoms

  • Severe pain in the shoulder area, especially with movement
  • Swelling and bruising around the shoulder
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm or hand
  • Deformity or abnormal shape of the shoulder
  • Inability to move the shoulder joint

Cause & Anatomy

Causes of Shoulder Dislocation:

  • Forceful impact or trauma to the shoulder, such as from a fall, sports injury, or motor vehicle accident
  • Extreme rotation or overhead motion of the arm
  • Weak shoulder muscles or previous shoulder injury

Anatomy of Shoulder Dislocation:

  • Humerus (upper arm bone)
  • Glenoid (shallow socket in the shoulder blade)
  • Ligaments and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination to check for deformity, swelling, and limited range of motion
  • X-rays to confirm dislocation and check for fractures
  • Sometimes CT scan or MRI for further evaluation

Prevention

  • Maintaining shoulder muscle strength and flexibility through exercise
  • Proper technique and protective gear in sports
  • Avoiding high-risk activities if you have a history of shoulder instability

Treatment

  • Closed reduction: Gently manipulating the arm to reposition the humerus back into the socket, often under sedation or anesthesia
  • Immobilization with a sling for several weeks
  • Pain medication and icing to reduce swelling
  • Physical therapy to restore range of motion and strength

Surgery

Surgery may be recommended for:

  • Severe ligament or tendon tears
  • Recurrent dislocations despite non-surgical treatment
  • Procedures may involve repairing torn tissues or tightening the joint

Rehabilitation After Surgery

  • Immobilization for several weeks to allow healing
  • Gradual range of motion and strengthening exercises
  • Return to full activities may take several months

FAQ’s

How long does it take to recover from a dislocated shoulder?
Recovery time varies but can take several weeks to months depending on severity.

Can a dislocated shoulder heal on its own?
Rarely, a partial dislocation may self-reduce, but medical treatment is still recommended.

Will I need surgery for a dislocated shoulder?
Surgery is often not needed for a first-time dislocation without significant tissue damage.

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