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Shoulder Dislocation

Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. A ball at the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) fits neatly into a socket, called the glenoid, which is part of the shoulder blade (scapula). The glenoid is surrounded by a ring of fibrous cartilage called the labrum for stabilization of the shoulder joint. 

What is Shoulder Dislocation?

Sports that involve overhead movements and repeated use of the shoulder at your workplace may lead to sliding of the upper arm bone from the glenoid. The dislocation might be a partial dislocation (subluxation) or a complete dislocation causing pain and shoulder joint instability. The shoulder joint often dislocates in the forward direction (anterior instability), and sometimes in the backward or downward direction. 

Symptoms of Shoulder Dislocation

The most common symptoms of shoulder dislocation include pain and shoulder joint instability. Other symptoms such as swelling, numbness and bruising may also occur. At times, it may cause tears in the ligaments or tendons of the shoulder and nerve damage. 

Diagnosis of Shoulder Dislocation

Your doctor will examine your shoulder and may order an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. 

Treatments for Shoulder Dislocation

The condition is treated by a process called closed reduction, which involves placing the ball of the upper arm back into the socket. Following this, the shoulder will be immobilized using a sling for several weeks. Ice may be applied over the area 3-4 times a day. Rehabilitation exercises may be started to restore range of motion, once the pain and swelling decrease.

  • University of Notre Dame
  • Saint Joseph Health System
  • Beacon Health System
  •  American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • The American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics
  • American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
  • American Board of Medical Specialties
  • American Board of Medical Specialties
  • American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery
  • American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • North American Spine Society
  • American Society for Surgery of the Hand
  • American Academy of Physician Assistants
  • Zimmer Biomet
  • Stryker Corporation
  • Arthrex
  • Breg
  • Smith+Nephew
  • DePuy Synthes