Dislocated Shoulder


Dislocated Shoulder

A dislocated shoulder occurs when the ball (humeral head) of your upper arm bone (humerus) slips out of its socket (glenoid) in the shoulder blade (scapula). The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, allowing a wide range of motion. However, this flexibility makes it more susceptible to displacement, especially with forceful impacts or awkward movements. 

Dislocated shoulder signs and symptoms

A dislocated shoulder usually presents with the following symptoms:

What are the Causes & Risk Factor?

Several factors can contribute to shoulder dislocation:

  • Falling: Falling on an outstretched arm is a common cause of shoulder dislocation, especially in older adults. 
  • Sports injuries: Contact sports such as football, rugby, hockey, and activities such as gymnastics or skiing can put the shoulder at risk for a fracture due to falls, bumps, or forceful movements. 
  • Sudden impacts: A direct blow to the shoulder, such as during a car accident or other traumatic event, can dislocate the joint. 
  • Seizures: Uncontrolled muscle contractions during a seizure can sometimes force the shoulder joint out of place. 

Predisposing factors of dislocated shoulder

Some factors can increase your risk of dislocating your shoulder:

  • Age: As we age, the tissues around the shoulder joint, including the ligaments, become weaker and more susceptible to tears, increasing the risk of dislocation. 
  • Ligament laxity (Lexi): Individuals with naturally lax ligaments or those who have previously dislocated their shoulder are at greater risk of future dislocation. 
  • Participation in contact sports: Athletes in sports with high impact or vigorous movements, such as football, rugby, or gymnastics, are more prone to shoulder dislocations. 
  • Repetitive overhead activities: Activities that require repetitive overhead movements, such as weightlifting or throwing sports (baseball, tennis), can weaken the shoulder structures over time, leading to risk of displacement. 

Diagnosis of hip osteoarthritis

Diagnosis of a dislocated shoulder usually includes:

A health care professional will examine your shoulder to: 

  • Location and intensity of pain: They will palpate the shoulder to identify the location of the tenderness and assess the intensity of the pain. 
  • Impairment: They will visually inspect the shoulder for any visible signs of impairment or swelling. 
  • Neurological evaluation: They will check for any numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arm and hand to assess possible nerve or blood vessel damage. 

Imaging tests are not usually necessary for diagnosis but may be helpful in some cases: 

  • X-rays: X-rays can confirm dislocations and rule out any associated bone fractures. 

Treatment options for A Dislocated Shoulder

The primary goal of treating a dislocated shoulder is to gently return the humeral head into its socket (reduction) and stabilize the joint. Here is an overview of treatment options.

  • Pain medications: Pain relievers (ibuprofen, acetaminophen) or stronger pain medications may be given before and after the procedure to reduce pain and discomfort. 
  • Reduction (putting the joint back into place): A healthcare professional trained in shoulder reduction exercises will move the humeral head back into the socket by flexing your arm in a specific way. The procedure may be uncomfortable, so pain medication may be used beforehand. In some cases, sedation or muscle relaxants may be needed to facilitate smooth reduction. 
  • Immobilization: After a successful reduction, your shoulder will likely be immobilized using a sling or brace for a period of time (usually 1-3 weeks) to allow the ligaments and soft tissues to heal and prevent further instability. 
  • Range of motion exercises: Gentle exercises to improve mobility and prevent stiffness in the shoulder joint. These exercises will gradually progress to restoring full range of motion. 

Surgery for a dislocated shoulder is rarely necessary but may be considered in certain situations: 

  • Recurrent dislocation: If your shoulder dislocates frequently (three or more episodes), surgery may be recommended to tighten or repair the ligaments and stabilize the joint. 
  • Bone Fractures: In some cases, shoulder dislocations can also lead to bone fractures in the humerus or glenoid socket. Surgery may be needed to repair a broken bone. 
  • Nerve injuries: If the degeneration causes damage to the nerves or blood vessels in the shoulder, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage and restore function. 

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