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What Is Shoulder Dislocation?

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. For this reason, the shoulder joint is naturally unstable and can be very easy to dislocate. The shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward, or downward. The shoulder joint can be dislocated partially, where the humerus (upper arm bone) is partially out of it’s socket. A complete dislocation means that the humerus is completely out of the shoulder socket.

doctor examining patient

Shoulder Dislocation Causes and Risk Factors

A shoulder dislocation can happen during a fall or some sort of trauma. This type of injury is common in sports and motor vehicle accidents. Sports such as football, volleyball, hockey, soccer, skiing, and other sports are risky sports for this type of injury. Once a shoulder is dislocated, it is prone to reinjury.

Symptoms of a Shoulder Dislocation

Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include severe pain and instability in the shoulder and upper arm, making it difficult to move. The shoulder will also look deformed, either bulging in the front or the back of the shoulder. Our sports medicine doctor in Dallas can assess the symptoms to diagnose a shoulder dislocation. Other signs of a shoulder dislocation are:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Numbness in the neck or arm
  • Weakness in the shoulder or arm

When Surgery Is Necessary

After a shoulder dislocation, seek medical attention immediately. A doctor will perform a closed reduction, where he will reset the shoulder back into the socket, and the pain will begin to subside quickly. Rest, ice/heat therapy and pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, will help with swelling and pain following the injury. A shoulder surgeon in Dallas can prescribe physical therapy exercises to maintain mobility in the shoulder joint, and slowly build up strength. Most people regain shoulder function within a few weeks. If the shoulder is not getting stronger with therapy and rehabilitation, surgery may be necessary. Dr. Madsen may suggest surgery if the shoulder joints or ligaments are weak or if recurrent shoulder dislocations occur.

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