Shoulder Dislocation – An Overview

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Shoulder Dislocation – An Overview

Your elbows go straight and front; your knees go straight and back. Have you noticed that your shoulders go in almost all directions?

Your shoulders are the most mobile joints in the body, with a lot to carry on them too! But even the most efficient and versatile joint in your body is prone to injury. And shoulder dislocation, unfortunately, is not an uncommon trauma. Such an incident may limit the function of a shoulder vividly and hamper your day-to-day activities (and, of course, causes tremendous pain).

Naturally, you seek out for medical help. So what kind of treatment can you expect? Well, before we get to the treatment of a dislocated shoulder, let’s first understand what exactly is ‘dislocated’.

What Is Shoulder Dislocation?

The shoulder joint consists of three bones.

  1. The Collar Bone
  2. The Shoulder Blade
  3. The Upper Arm (or the humerus).

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The head of the upper arm bone is shaped like a ball that fits into the cup-shaped socket of the shoulder blade. Sometimes due to certain conditions like loose ligaments and injuries, there is a possibility of the ball slips out of the socket. This causes the shoulder to have restricted mobility and pain. When that happens, the condition is called shoulder dislocation.

What May Cause The Shoulder Bones To Dislocate?

  • A strong shoulder pull
  • Forceful shoulder rotation
  • Weakened ligament
  • A sports injury
  • Accidents
  • Seizures that cause violent muscle contractions that can lead to ligament tears

No matter what causes the unfortunate injury, it should be brought to medical attention immediately.

How Is A Dislocated Shoulder Treated?

A dislocated shoulder can often be identified by an expert through physical examination only. However, to understand the severity of dislocation and to look for any other damage to the surrounding soft tissues and nerves, the doctor can suggest many imaging diagnostic tests like X-ray, CT Scan, MRI etc.

Anyhow, the treatment should begin immediately. Based on the severity of the condition, the following treatment procedures can be opted for:

Reduction: If the dislocation is not too severe and there is no damage to the surrounding tissue, then the doctor may attempt to ‘push’ and relocate the shoulder back in its socket. This method of treatment, which is non-surgical, is called shoulder reduction. It can be done under an imaging scanner to guide the physician to properly monitor the progress of the relocation. It can take around 15 mins. However, this can be painful and may require sedation.

Shoulder Bracing: When someone suffers from a shoulder dislocation once, that person becomes more vulnerable to such injury in case they face another trauma. Sometimes, some people naturally have weaker ligaments and tendons or an ill-fitted shoulder. Even those people may run the risk of shoulder dislocation. In those cases, shoulder bracing may help them to maintain the stability of their shoulder joint.

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Surgery: Major shoulder dislocation arising out of a traumatic accident where the shoulder has an associated fracture with nerve or soft tissue damage may warrant surgery. Such surgery involves the expertise of orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists, anesthesiologists and other experts. Surgery is also essential for people who have suffered from multiple shoulder dislocation in their past and has not benefited from shoulder bracing.

How To Recover From A Shoulder Dislocation?

Rehabilitation after a shoulder reduction or a shoulder dislocation surgery requires three things: medication, temporary immobilisation and physiotherapy.

Medicine: Medicine will help you manage pain and swelling. If you had surgery, medicines will prevent any kind of infection or any chances of bleeding. Medicine will also help in faster tissue growth which will heal your injury quicker. Pain and swelling can also be managed with cold compression and other topical medicine.

Immobilisation: A sling or brace is used to temporarily immobilise your shoulder. A stable and rested shoulder will accelerate the healing process. You may have to wear the sling up to a week or a month based on the severity of the injury.


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Rehabilitation: Once the shoulder is healed, it has to be brought into action gradually. You cannot start doing pull-ups on the next day. And this is where you need to take some physiotherapy classes. Various small targeted exercises can help you regain strength and stability in the affected shoulder and arm. In addition, it’s always wise to supplement exercise with proper diet. So, do not forget to ask your doctor to draw you a diet guide. Once you are back to normal after recovering from a shoulder dislocation, you must take extra caution not to injure that area again.

However, if you have any shoulder related conditions arising out of trauma or arthritis or anything else, you can contact our orthopaedicians at Sunshine Hospitals who have special interest and expertise in dealing medical cases related to shoulder.

Stay safe, play safe!

About The Doctor: 



Dr Sukesh Rao Sankineani has an outstanding academic and surgical experience winning a number of laurels in his Orthopaedic medical career. Dr Sukesh has done his graduation from the renowned All India Institute of medical sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He is the youngest recipient of the prestigious Tohoku University travelling scholarship to Japan. He has returned to India and currently working as Consultant Arthroscopy, Cartilage Repair and Sports Surgery at Sunshine Hospitals.

About Sunshine Hospitals: A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.

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