A shoulder dislocation is an injury in which the upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket that's part of the shoulder blade. The shoulder is the body's most movable joint, which makes it susceptible to dislocation.
If a dislocated shoulder is found, seek prompt medical attention. Most people regain full shoulder function within a few weeks. However, if somebody had a shoulder dislocation, the joints may become unstable and be prone to repeated dislocations.
What are the different Signs & Symptoms of Shoulder Dislocation
Shoulder Dislocation signs and symptoms may include:
- A visibly deformed or out-of-place shoulder
- Swelling or bruising
- Intense pain
- Inability to move the joint
Shoulder dislocation may also cause numbness, weakness or tingling near the injury, such as in the neck or down the arm. The muscles in the shoulder may spasm from the disruption, often increasing the intensity of pain.
When to see a doctor in case of Shoulder Dislocation
While the patient is waiting for medical attention:
- Don't move the joint - Don't try to move the shoulder or force it back into place. This can damage the shoulder joint and its surrounding muscles, ligaments, nerves or blood vessels.
- Ice the injured joint - Applying ice to the shoulder can help in reducing the pain and swelling by controlling internal bleeding and the buildup of fluids in and around the shoulder joint.
Causes of Shoulder Dislocation
The shoulder joint is the most frequently dislocated joint of the body. Because it moves in several directions, the shoulder can dislocate forward, backward or downward, completely or partially, though most dislocations occur through the front of the shoulder.
In addition, fibrous tissue that joins the bones of the shoulder can be stretched or torn, often complicating the dislocation.
It takes a strong force, such as a sudden blow to the shoulder, to pull the bones out of place. Extreme rotation of the shoulder joint can pop the ball of upper arm bone out of the shoulder socket. Partial dislocation — in which upper arm bone is partially in and partially out of the shoulder socket may also occur.
A shoulder dislocation may be caused by:
- Sports injuries: Shoulder dislocation is a common injury in sports, such as football and hockey, and in sports that may involve frequent injuries, such as downhill skiing, gymnastics and volleyball.
- Trauma not related to sports: A hard blow to the shoulder during a motor vehicle accident is a common source of dislocation.
- A Fall: One can dislocate the shoulder during a fall, such as from a ladder or from tripping on a loose rug.
Risk factors associated with Shoulder Dislocation
Men in their teens or 20s, a group that tends to be physically active, are at highest risk of shoulder dislocation.
Complications related to shoulder dislocation
Complications of a shoulder dislocation may include:
- Tearing of the muscles, ligaments and tendons that reinforce shoulder joint
- Nerve or blood vessel damage in or around shoulder joint
- Shoulder instability, especially if one is having a severe dislocation or repeated dislocations, which makes him more prone to re-injury.
To help prevent a shoulder dislocation:
- Take care to avoid falls
- Wear protective gear when playing sports where physical contact is involved.
- Exercise regularly to maintain strength and flexibility in the joints and muscles
Once one has dislocated his shoulder joint, he may be more susceptible to future shoulder dislocations. To avoid a recurrence, follow specific strength and stability exercises that the doctor has suggested.
Treatment of Shoulder Dislocation
Shoulder Dislocation treatment may involve:
- Closed reduction - The doctor may try some gentle maneuvers to help the shoulder bones back into their proper positions. Depending on the amount of pain and swelling, the patient may need a muscle relaxant or sedative or, rarely, a general anesthetic before manipulation of the shoulder bones. When shoulder bones are back in place, severe pain should improve almost immediately.
- Surgery - The patient may need surgery if he is having a weak shoulder joint or ligaments and tend to have recurring shoulder dislocations despite proper strengthening and rehabilitation. In rare cases, the patient may need surgery if his nerves or blood vessels are damaged.
- Immobilization - The doctor may use a special splint or sling for a few days to three weeks to keep the shoulder from moving.
- Medication - The doctor might prescribe a pain reliever or a muscle relaxant to keep the patient comfortable while his shoulder heals.
- Rehabilitation - After the shoulder splint or sling is removed, the patient will begin a gradual rehabilitation program designed to restore the strength and stability of the shoulder joint.
If the patient is having a fairly simple shoulder dislocation without major nerve or tissue damage, the shoulder joint is likely to improve over a few weeks, but the patient will be at increased risk for future dislocation. Resuming activity too soon after shoulder dislocation may cause the patient to injure his shoulder joint or to dislocate it again.
X-ray has to be performed before the treatment of Shoulder Dislocation.