Dislocated Shoulder

The shoulder joint is one of your body’s most movable joints. It can move in many directions; however, this makes it more susceptible to dislocation. A dislocated shoulder occurs when the top of your arm bone pops out of the joint socket. This is most often caused by: 

  • Sports-related falls and hits. 
  • Trauma-related blows to the shoulder, such as in a motor vehicle accident.
  • Falls, such as from a ladder or tripping.

Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder are severe pain in the upper arm, along with swelling and bruising. The shoulder may look deformed with a bump and it will be difficult to move.

Treatment for a Dislocated Shoulder

A dislocated shoulder needs to be treated right away. Use a sling to immobilize the joint until you see a doctor. The doctor will use gentle maneuvers to move the arm bone back into the joint socket. Never try to move the bone back into place yourself. You can damage the muscles, ligaments, nerves or blood vessels surrounding the joint. Once the bone is back in place, the pain will improve immediately.

If dislocating continues, you may need surgery to tighten the tendons that support and keep the joint in place. 

Dislocated Shoulder Recovery

Recovery time varies after a dislocated shoulder. The joint needs time to heal and get stronger. You’ll wear a sling to keep your shoulder from moving as it heals. Ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen will help with pain and swelling. 

Rehabilitation will help improve your flexibility, strength and stability in your shoulder joint. You’ll have a higher risk for another dislocation, but rehabilitation can help reduce that risk. Using your shoulder before it’s healed can cause permanent damage. That’s why it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions about exercising and returning to your normal activities. 

Contact Us

Suffering from a shoulder dislocation? Schedule an appointment with our Sports Medicine physicians for a treatment plan tailored to you. Call (859) 301-5600 to make an appointment.

If surgery is necessary, our physicians can provide a referral to one of our affiliated orthopaedic surgeons. For more information on surgical options, please contact us at askortho@stelizabeth.com.