Shoulder Dislocation

Another type of injury is a dislocated shoulder. This may happen when the arm is pulled up or backwards and forced out of the socket. It may also occur when falling on the shoulder or onto an outstretched hand. The upper arm bone (humerous) fits into the shoulder socket (glenoid). The joint is held in place by soft tissue stabilizers which include the labral cartilage, the capsule composed of connective tissue, and the rotator cuff muscles. In a dislocated shoulder these tissues are stretched or torn. The main symptom is severe pain that is worsened by movement. The end of the upper arm or humeral head may be seen as a lump sitting outside the shoulder joint. There may be numbness in the upper arm due to stretching of the nerve that occurs during the dislocation.


Treatment of a dislocated shoulder is by a medical provider who attempts to put the arm back in the joint. After the shoulder is put back in the joint the pain level is greatly reduced. The shoulder is immobilized in a sling to prevent movement and aid healing. Intermittent application of ice helps decrease pain and swelling. After a period of rest, physical therapy exercises are prescribed to stabilize the shoulder and hopefully prevent recurrent dislocations. In some cases surgery may be necessary, especially if the shoulder continues to dislocate.