Dislocated Shoulder

Having any kind of pain can prevent us from doing activities of daily living that are often taken for granted. Getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and cooking are all simple tasks that can become complicated if you have a shoulder injury.

The purpose of this blog is to provide you with an overview of dislocated shoulders and what you can do to recognize and treat this type of injury.

Shoulder Anatomy

In order to understand anything about dislocated shoulders, it’s essential to know about basic shoulder anatomy. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint composed of the humerus (the upper arm bone with a “ball” at the top), the scapula (the “socket”), and the clavicle (the collarbone). It is all held in place by muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which all form what’s known as the rotator cuff.

What is a Dislocated Shoulder?

A shoulder dislocation occurs when the “ball” portion of the shoulder pops out of its “socket”. Because shoulders have such a wide range of motion, they are the most commonly dislocated joint in the human body.

Dislocated Shoulder Causes

Shoulder dislocations are mostly caused by extreme force. It could be the result of a hard blow, a fall, or trauma due to playing contact sports. They are most likely in activities with the potential for frequent hard blows or falls, such as:

  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Gymnastics

A dislocated shoulder can also be a result of repetitive movements, such as in:

  • Swimming
  • Baseball pitching
  • Tennis

Also, people who’ve already experienced shoulder dislocation are more likely to experience it again.

Dislocated Shoulder Symptoms

A dislocated shoulder is typically easy to identify since often when the humerus pops out of the clavicle, the shape of the shoulder changes, making the injury visible.

In addition, the person will experience the following signs and symptoms of a dislocated shoulder:

  • Intense pain
  • Inability to move the shoulder
  • Swelling
  • Bump on the back of the shoulder

How to Diagnose a Dislocated Shoulder

Your doctor will visually inspect the shoulder for swelling or any visible signs of dislocation. In some instances, they may order X-Rays to confirm or to determine whether there are fractures around the dislocation.

Dislocated Shoulder Treatment

You’ll then be provided with sedatives while the medical provider maneuvers the shoulder back into place. The shoulder will be immobilized with a sling.

In addition, your medical provider may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or a muscle relaxant. In the most severe of injuries, surgery may be necessary to restore bones to their original position.

Once the injury is stabilized, your doctor will recommend rehabilitation and stretching exercises. Always do them as instructed, and wait until you’re cleared by your doctor before resuming any type of sport.

Home Remedies for a Dislocated Shoulder

Home remedies for a dislocated shoulder are relatively simple:

  • Rest
  • Apply ice to the injured shoulder for 20-minute increments during the first 48 hours
  • If your doctor prescribed medication, take them. If not, take over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Keep the shoulder immobilized

Keep in mind that even with the best treatments, it could take up to 12 weeks for your shoulder to heal.

How to Sleep With a Dislocated Shoulder

The most difficult thing to have to deal with after a shoulder dislocation is sleep. If you lay down, it’s going to hurt. If you have a recliner, plan on sleeping on it for the first few days. If that’s not an option for you, place several pillows strategically on your bed to provide your shoulder with support. Also, apply cold therapy for 15 minutes at a time, several times a day.

Should you sleep with a sling on after dislocating your shoulder?

Yes. Wearing a sling while you sleep will help you keep it immobilized, which is essential for proper healing.

When to See a Doctor for Dislocated Shoulder

If you get a fever or your shoulder remains swollen or feels warm to the touch, or if you had surgery and notice puss coming out of the incision, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Exercises for Dislocated Shoulder Relief

For several weeks after injury, the shoulder will have to remain immobilized. However, once healing has begun, your medical provider will assign physical therapy to prevent frozen shoulder.

While there are several video tutorials about exercises for relief, you should always wait to be cleared by your doctor to do them and inquire as to whether any of them should be modified. You’ll also need to make a conscious effort to have correct posture since this will allow you to regain your full range of motion.

Once you are fully healed, doing strength training exercises to strengthen the muscles around your rotator cuffs will help you prevent subsequent dislocations.

Dislocated Shoulder Complications

Once a person suffers from a dislocated shoulder, subsequent dislocations are more likely. This could lead to nerve damage, muscle tears, and/or muscle instability.

How to Prevent Shoulder Dislocation

General Population: One of the most important things a person could do to prevent shoulder dislocation is regular exercise and strength training. Doing so will help shoulders maintain strength and flexibility.

Athletes: If you’re an athlete, it’s crucial to wear adequate protective gear at all times.

Senior Adults: If you have poor balance, walk with a cane or a walker. Remove slippery rugs from the home, install balancing bars and shower mats in bathtubs, avoid wearing loose clothing, and always use handrails when going up and down the stairs.

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you believe you’re suffering from a dislocated shoulder, let us help you get back to doing what you love.

Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.