As the body’s most mobile joint, the shoulder joint can be turned in different directions. However, it’s also its mobility that makes it more susceptible to injuries like dislocation.

What is Dislocated Shoulder?

A dislocated shoulder is a form of injury wherein the upper arm bone pops out of the socket. It can either be a partial dislocation wherein the head of the upper arm bone is partially out of the socket or a complete dislocation wherein it’s totally out of the socket.

Common Causes of Dislocated Shoulder

A strong force or blow on the shoulder is enough to pull the bones out of place. Injuries from contact sports like football and hockey, falls, and a hard blow or trauma on the shoulder during a vehicular accident are the most common causes of a dislocated shoulder.

While anyone can have a dislocated shoulder, this injury is more common in physically active males in their teens and 20s and elderly patients. Due to age-related changes in the body specifically with the breakdown of collagen fibers, a small amount of trauma such as a fall on an outstretched hand can easily dislocate the shoulder of an elderly.

The Signs and Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of dislocated shoulder include pain in the shoulder and upper arms, deformation of the shoulder, numbness, weakness, and bruising.

Diagnosing and Treating Dislocated Shoulder

When a shoulder injury occurs and there’s a possibility of dislocation, one should seek medical attention immediately.  If a dislocated shoulder is left untreated, it can lead tearing of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons and damage on the nerves and blood vessels which may require surgery.

To diagnose a dislocated shoulder, an orthopaedic doctor has to do a health history check and careful physical examination of the affected site.

Aside from health history check and physical assessment, the doctor may also order an X-ray. This is to confirm the diagnosis of shoulder dislocation and to make sure that there are no broken bones associated with the shoulder injury.

There are several techniques used for managing a dislocated shoulder; one of which is called closed reduction. In this method, the doctor will place the ball of the upper arm bone into the socket joint. One’s the shoulder is back in place, the patient will be sent home in a sling to immobilize the affected site. The doctor may prescribe pain medications to help in controlling the pain.

Depending on the severity of the dislocation, a patient may be recommended for physical therapy once the swelling and pain subsides. During rehabilitation, a patient will be working with a physical therapist. He/she will be assisted in different forms of passive exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and restore the shoulder mobility.