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Shoulder Dislocation

What is shoulder dislocation?

The most common traumatic injury occurring across a wide range of sports is shoulder dislocation. Anterior dislocation make up approximately 95% of dislocations,., . In an anterior dislocation, the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) is forced forwards when the arm is turned outwards (externally rotated) and held out to the side (abducted).

Dislocations can also be posterior, inferior, superior or intrathoracic, although these are very rare and can cause a number of complications and extensive damage to surrounding structures.


What causes shoulder dislocation?

The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile, which sacrifices stability, and thus, prone to dislocations, Shoulder dislocations is usually acute, caused by direct or indirect trauma such as a fall or forced abduction and external rotation

In those with highly unstable glenohumeral joints, shoulder dislocations commonly become a reoccurring problem, with many people learning how to reduce them themselves.


What are the symptoms?

You will experience a sudden onset of severe pain, and often you will have a feeling of the shoulder 'popping out'.

When comparing the oinjured shoulder with the other, the injured shoulder will often look obviously different to the other side, usually loosing the smooth, rounded contour.

There may also be pins and needles or numbness through the arm to the hand, if there is any nerve damage.


What can you do?

The first thing to do is to protect the shoulder joint and prevent further damage (e.g. rest in a sling). Secondly, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How is shoulder dislocation treated?

It is vitally important to seek medical attention when you sustain a dislocation,, even if the shoulder pops straight back into position on its own. There is a strong likelihood that you will need some rehabilitation to help you regain both the function of the shoulder, and to prevent it from dislocating again.

The doctor may recommend surgery if the shoulder is regularly dislocating, or if there is an associated fracture.

After the period of initial immobilization, you will be directed to gradually increase your range of pain free movement. To prevent reoccurrences, you will also need to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles which support the shoulder joint .