The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body, making it more prone to dislocation. Sports injuries, motor accidents and falls can all cause the shoulder to dislocate. If you think that you have dislocated your shoulder, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.


How does shoulder dislocation occur?

The shoulder joint is called a ball and socket joint, as it is made up of the cup-shaped shoulder joint which fits into the ball shaped end of the upper arm bone (humerus), allowing for the rotational movements of the shoulder. When there is a blow to the shoulder, the shoulder can partially or fully dislocate. A partial dislocation is when the humerus is half in the socket and half out. A full dislocation is when the humerus completely pops out of the shoulder joint.


What are the symptoms?

There are several symptoms of a shoulder dislocation, which can include:

  • Visual distortion around the shoulder area
  • Severe pain
  • Difficulty moving the shoulder
  • Swelling of the shoulder joint
  • Bruising around the shoulder area
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness or weakness in the shoulder area


How is it treated?

When shoulder dislocations first occur, before medical attention is available, the shoulder should be kept still and iced to reduce swelling. A doctor will then do an assessment of the shoulder to determine the level of damage and will sometimes take an X-ray.

The doctor will then perform a process which is called closed reduction, where the bone of the upper arm is placed back into the shoulder socket. This process helps significantly to reduce pain.


Rehabilitation Following Treatment

After the closed reduction, the shoulder joint is usually iced 3-4 times a day and is sometimes put into a sling for further support. Once the swelling has subsided and the pain has eased, it is common for doctors to prescribe rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the shoulder joint and prevent further dislocation and injuries.

Once a shoulder has been dislocated, it is more susceptible to dislocation in the future, so it is important for individuals to keep up the rehabilitation exercises. Additionally, a shoulder brace is sometimes recommended if the individual participates in sport or movements which put pressure on the shoulder joint.


Shoulder Surgery

Sometimes, shoulder dislocation can cause the tendons around the shoulder joint to become overstretched. Therefore, shoulder surgery may be the best option to prevent further dislocations. This may include shoulder tendon repair, where the tendons of the shoulder are surgically reattached around the shoulder joint following trauma, such as dislocation.

If you have dislocated your shoulder and are looking for a Perth shoulder specialist, Dr Jens Buelow is a highly experienced Orthopaedic surgeon trained in sports medicine. He assures the highest quality of patient care and takes bookings on 9212 4200. To learn more about shoulder injuries, rehabilitation techniques or injury prevention, read our latest blog posts.