Dislocated Shoulder

What is a Dislocated Shoulder?

This is an injury in which your upper arm bone pops out of your shoulder socket.

How Does it Happen?

Your shoulder joint can move in many different directions, and this leaves it vulnerable to injury. Your shoulder can dislocate if you suffer a sudden blow or if the joint undergoes an extreme rotation. Some typical causes are sport injuries, falls, and auto accidents. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Usually, the signs of a dislocated shoulder are fairly obvious. Here are common symptoms:

  • A shoulder that is visibly out of place
  • Intense pain
  • Swelling or bruising at the shoulder
  • Being unable to move your shoulder
  • Numbness or tingling in your neck and arm 

How is it Diagnosed?

It may be difficult for you to tell the difference between a broken shoulder and a dislocated shoulder. Your doctor will do a physical exam and may also use an x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study your joint. These imaging tests will help your doctor access the damage to your shoulder. 

How is it Treated?

In most cases, your doctor should be able to move your shoulder back into place through a procedure called closed reduction. You probably won't need anesthesia, but you may need a sedative or muscle relaxant if you are in pain. 

If your doctor is unable to manipulate your shoulder through closed reduction, you may require a surgical adjustment called open reduction. You may also require surgery if your dislocation has damaged nerves or blood vessels. 

What is the Prognosis?

After your shoulder is back in place, you may need a splint or sling to keep it stable as it heals. Once the joint has healed, your doctor may suggest physical therapy to help you regain strength and range of motion. Usually, a shoulder dislocation will fully heal, but if you try to resume normal activity too soon, you may be more apt to dislocate your shoulder again.