Approximately half of all dislocations are of the shoulder and usually take place during sports activities or from a fall with the arms outstretched. If you have shoulder pain and suspect that your shoulder is dislocated, we can help by putting you in touch with a board-certified orthopedic physician specializing in shoulders. At Orthopedic Centers of America we have helped over 30,000 patients find relief from their pain, and we can help you. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak to a patient coordinator. The call is free, and you will be glad you called.
Symptoms of Dislocated Shoulder
The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body and can easily be dislocated, either partially or completely. Twenty-five percent of dislocations include fractures, so it is important to be examined by an orthopedic with the experience you can trust. When the ball of the shoulder joint is not in its normal position, you will experience pain that must be treated by a professional to protect the shoulder from further injury. Some of the symptoms may be:
- Difficulty moving the arm
- Shoulder feels “loose”
- May hear “pops” or “clicks”
- Numbness, tingling, or possibly weakness
- Swelling or bruising
Causes and Risk Factors for a Dislocated Shoulder
Dislocated shoulders are usually experienced in young people from trauma sustained from a sporting event. Older adults may be prone to a dislocated shoulder as their shoulder ligaments weaken. Other causes include:
- Overuse – repetition and strain from overuse during sporting activities such as golf, tennis, volleyball
- Loose ligaments – the connective tissue in the shoulder may become loose from injury or overuse
- “Double Jointed” – some people are genetically predisposed to having a dislocated shoulder
When to Seek Medical Care
It is very important to seek medical care immediately if you suspect that your shoulder is dislocated. If an orthopedic physician is present when the injury occurs, he may be able to manipulate it back into place before the body has a chance to react to the injury. Otherwise, it is important to see a board-certified, orthopedic specialist who can correctly diagnose the dislocation. There are different techniques for the different types of dislocations that require expert diagnosis. At Orthopedic Centers of America, we can help. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak with a patient coordinator. The call is free and you will be helped immediately.
Once the dislocation of your shoulder has been diagnosed, there are several non-surgical treatments which your orthopedic doctor may choose, depending upon the type of dislocation you may have.
- Immobilization – resting the shoulder in a sling will give it time to heal and prevent the possibility of a repeat dislocation
- Ice – using ice immediately to reduce the swelling and accumulation of fluids and internal bleeding
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – may be used to help reduce inflammation and swelling and reduce the pain
- Physical Therapy – may be used to strength the ligaments and muscles holding the shoulder joint in place for complete healing and prevention of repeat occurrences
- Reduction – you may be prescribed a muscle relaxer to assist the shoulder going back into place. Reduction is most successful if attempted after the injury and before the body has time to respond with muscle spasms.
Once a person experiences a dislocated shoulder, the likelihood of reoccurrence must be considered. In these cases, the orthopedic surgeon will consider age, activity level and the patient’s individual lifestyle in making a recommendation. In some cases, therefore, surgery is necessary to treat the dislocated shoulder and may be a better choice to prevent reoccurrences. In young athletes, ages 17-27, surgery has been shown by documented studies to prevent further dislocations when compared to immobilization and non-surgical treatments.
Because many shoulder dislocations are accompanied by a fracture, it is important to have an X-ray or MRI for diagnostic purposes. The surgeon will be able to make any repairs that are needed to the muscle or ligaments during a minimally-invasive surgical procedure, called arthroscopy. The Orthopedic Centers of America network of physicians use minimally-invasive surgical procedures to speed the healing and recovery process. These surgeries use one or two 1-inch incision(s) through which a tiny camera and long, thin surgical instruments are placed to allow the surgeon to see the injury and make the necessary repair.
Your recovery period will depend upon the type of shoulder dislocation you incurred and will be explained to you by the orthopedic surgeon. Almost always, physical therapy is part of the recovery process as you work to strengthen the ligaments and muscles surrounding the shoulder joint to provide better stability in the future and prevent another dislocation. These exercises should be continued at home once released and recovery is complete. At Orthopedic Centers of America, we want to help you find the best path towards pain relief. Call 1-888-549-0835 to speak with a patient coordinator. Find help today. Life Awaits.