The shoulder joint is your body’s most mobile joint. It can turn in many directions, but this advantage also makes your shoulder joint easy to dislocate. A partial dislocation (subluxation) means the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is partially out of the socket (glenoid). A complete dislocation means it’s all the way out. Both partial and complete dislocations cause pain and unsteadiness in your shoulder. Your muscles may have spasms from the disruption, and this can make it hurt more. When your shoulder dislocates time and again, you have shoulder instability.
Symptoms to look for include swelling, numbness, weakness and bruising. Sometimes dislocation may tear ligaments or tendons in your shoulder. Once in awhile, the dislocation may damage your nerves.
Mechanism of Injury:
Your shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward or downward. A common type of shoulder dislocation is when your shoulder slips forward. This means your upper arm bone moved forward and down out of its joint. It may happen when you put your arm in a throwing position or sustain a direct blow to the front or back of your shoulder.
Your doctor will examine your shoulder and may order an X-ray. It’s important for you to tell your doctor how it happened. Sometimes you need to have your doctor put your shoulder back in place. Your severe pain stops almost immediately once your shoulder joint is back in place.
Your doctor may immobilize your shoulder in a sling or other device for several weeks following treatment. You should get plenty of rest and ice the sore area 3-4 times a day. After the pain and swelling go down, your doctor will prescribe rehabilitation exercises for you. These help restore your shoulder’s range of motion and strengthen your muscles. Rehab may also help you prevent dislocating your shoulder again in the future. You begin by doing gentle muscle toning exercises. Later, you can work up to using weights.
If your shoulder dislocation becomes a chronic condition, a brace can sometimes help.
However, if therapy and bracing fail, then you may need surgery to repair or tighten torn or stretched ligaments, which help hold the joint in place.