Your shoulder is your body’s most mobile joint. It can turn in many directions, making it susceptible to dislocate forward, backward or downward, partially or completely. A partial dislocation means the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is partially out of the cup-shaped socket (glenoid). A complete dislocation means it is completely out of the socket. A dislocated shoulder should be examined by a DOC orthopedic specialist who can then provide the best treatment options for you.
Strong force or a sudden blow to the shoulder from contact sports such as football, hockey, skiing, gymnastics, and volleyball, a major fall, or a motor vehicle accident, all may cause a shoulder dislocation. Extreme rotation of the shoulder when throwing a baseball is a higher risk for the upper arm bone to move forward out of its socket.
- Visible deformity
- Swelling or bruising
- Numbness or tingling in the neck or arm
- Intense pain
- Inability to move the joint
It is important for you not to try to move the joint back in place yourself. Go immediately to DOC. The orthopedic surgeon or PA will examine the shoulder and may order X-rays. He or she will place the ball of the upper arm bone back into the joint socket, called closed reduction, which should end the pain. Your shoulder may be placed in a sling or brace in order to immobilize the shoulder for healing.
Once you’ve had a dislocated shoulder, your joint may become unstable and prone to repeat dislocations. A DOC PT rehabilitation regimen of specific exercises will strengthen and improve flexibility and range of motion in joints and muscles and help to prevent future shoulder dislocations.
For more information on dislocated shoulders, other shoulder injuries and treatments, please visit DOC’s conditions page: