Shoulder Dislocation

The shoulder joint is your body's most mobile joint. Its ability to turn in many directions is both an advantage and a weakness because it makes your shoulder joint easy to dislocate. A partial dislocation (subluxation) means the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is partially out of the socket (glenoid). A complete dislocation means it's all the way out.

Your shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward or downward. A common type of shoulder dislocation is when your shoulder slips forward (anterior instability). This means your upper arm bone moved forward and down out of its joint. It may happen when you put your arm in a throwing position.

Treatment for a Dislocated Shoulder

The physician will put the ball of the upper arm bone (humerus) back into the joint socket. This process is called closed reduction. Your severe pain stops almost immediately once your shoulder joint is back in place.

After securing the shoulder, a sling may be used to keep your shoulder from moving and give it rest after the injury. After the pain and swelling go down, your doctor will prescribe physical therapy. This helps restore your shoulder's range of motion and strengthens your muscles. In addition, physical therapy may also help prevent future dislocations.

If your shoulder dislocation recurs often, a brace can sometimes help. However, if physical therapy and a brace do not work, then you may need surgery to repair or tighten torn or stretched ligaments. This will help keep the joints in place.