A dislocated shoulder is an injury in which the ball joint of the upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket. The shoulder is the one of the body's most mobile joint, which makes it easiest to dislocate due to constant movement. A dislocated shoulder can occur due to sport injuries or falling onto outstretched hands. Medical treatment is recommended in order to regain full shoulder function.
Signs and symptoms of a dislocated shoulder may include:
- Severe pain in the shoulder and upper arm
- Deformation of the shoulder
- Tenderness of the shoulder
- Possible lump under the skin in front of the shoulder
- Possible numbness and weakness near the injury
Causes for a dislocated shoulder are most frequently due to tearing or stretching of the fibrous tissues that join the bones of the shoulder. Since the shoulder joint is the most mobile part of the body and moves constantly in several directions, this makes it sustainable to dislocation. The most common causes of a dislocated shoulder are:
- Falling onto an outstretched hand
- Automobile accidents
- Improper lifting or swinging
- Sudden pulling
- Sports injuries
Factors associated with the risk of sustaining a shoulder injury/dislocated shoulder include: Physically active individuals (most frequently males in their teens or 20s).
Complications of a dislocated shoulder may include the following:
- Tearing of the muscles, ligaments and tendons
- Pinched nerves or blood vessel damage
- Shoulder instability (in cases of severe dislocation or repeated dislocations)
- More prone to re-injury
Stretching or tearing ligaments as well as damaging nerves or blood vessels in the shoulder joint may require surgery to help repair the injury and ensure proper healing.
Dislocated shoulders need to be treated right away to prevent the joint from getting more swollen and painful as well as preventing further complications. Treatment options for a dislocated shoulder include:
- Closed Reduction: a procedure that involves gentle maneuvers to help the shoulder bones back into their proper positions.
- Icing the shoulder to reduce pain and swelling
- Taking pain relievers or muscle relaxants
- Using a splint or sling to help prevent further injury until the shoulder has properly healed
- Practicing stretching and strengthening exercises
- Surgery if necessary to repair a torn ligament or correctly position the bones
A few recommendations for preventing a dislocated shoulder may include:
- Careful observation of surroundings to avoid falls
- Avoiding swinging children by their arms that could lead to sudden twisting of the arm
- Avoiding lifting heavy objects that could strain the shoulder joint
- Wearing protective gear when participating in contact sports
- Exercising regularly to maintain muscular strength and flexibility