Shoulder Dislocation

The shoulder is made up of a ball and socket joint – the ball-shaped head of the upper arm bone (humerus) articulates in the socket of the glenoid cavity of the shoulder blade (scapula). Despite being the most flexible joint in the body, the bones of the shoulder are highly prone to dislocation. Overhead sports and and traumatic injuries may lead to sliding of the humerus out of the glenoid causing a dislocation.

What are the symptoms of shoulder dislocation?

The dislocation can be partial (subluxation) or complete with symptoms of pain, swelling, weakness, bruising, numbness and shoulder joint instability. Sometimes the dislocation can tear ligaments or tendons in the shoulder, and cause nerve damage.

How is a shoulder dislocation diagnosed?

When you present to the clinic with a dislocated shoulder joint, your doctor will examine your shoulder and order an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the treatment options?

The condition is treated by a process called closed reduction, which involves placing the ball of the upper arm back onto the socket. Following this, the shoulder will be immobilized with a sling for several weeks. Ice may be applied over the area 3 to 4 times a day to relieve symptoms of pain and swelling. Rehabilitation exercises may be started to restore range of motion, once the pain and swelling decrease.

  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • The Arthroscopy Association of North America
  •  American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • International Society for Hip Arthroscopy