Of all the joints in your body, the shoulder is by far the most versatile. Able to rotate in many directions and responsible for carrying heavy loads, this workhorse of a joint is also one of the most vulnerable for injury, the most common of which is dislocation. Below are the causes and symptoms of a dislocated shoulder, as well as how it is treated and how to ensure your recovery is complete.
Causes of a Dislocated Shoulder
Dislocated shoulders occur when the head of the upper arm (the humerus) becomes either partially or fully dislodged from the glenoid socket. A dislocated shoulder is a common injury among athletes – especially those who engage in contact sports like football, soccer and gymnastics; it is also the common result of falls, collisions and car accidents. Dislocated shoulder can occur over time from repetitive sports motions, such as those common in tennis, golf, or swimming. The same is true of occupations that force the shoulder to perform repetitively, such as painting, construction work and lifting.
Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder
It’s fair to say, if you dislocate your shoulder, you will know immediately. Symptoms may include swelling, extreme pain and bruising. Your shoulder may appear deformed, and you likely will find it impossible to move the joint. Expect tingling and weakness. Some may feel nauseous or light-headed; depending on the extent of the injury and their pain tolerance, some may even faint or vomit.
If you should dislocate your shoulder, either partially or fully, do not, under any circumstance, attempt to reposition your joint back into place – that may cause even more damage. Rather, seek qualified medical treatment immediately. En route to medical care, you may want to apply ice to reduce swelling and pain. Immobilize the shoulder as best you can, either with a make-shift splint or sling.
Once under medical care, your orthopaedist will examine the site and order an X-ray to determine the extent of the damage. This diagnosis is necessary to confirm the dislocation, as well as fractures or other damage that may be associated with the injury. If there is no evidence of fractures or other internal damage, your orthopaedist likely will perform reduction – a non-surgical technique in which the ball of your shoulder will be manipulated manually back into its socket.
Following reduction, Immobilization is key to recovery, so expect to wear a sling for several weeks. Application of icepacks as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication will help reduce pain and swelling. Physical therapy is another essential component of your recovery and rehabilitation, and can help you regain range of motion, strengthen weak muscles, and may prevent dislocations from happening in the future. Should dislocations become a chronic problem or if the damage is too extensive for reduction, your orthopaedist may recommend surgery.
Complete Orthopaedic Care in San Antonio
If you dislocate your shoulder or have experienced any injury or chronic pain due to tendonitis, arthritis, or wear and tear, it’s important to seek expert orthopaedic care. In San Antonio, the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine provides full-service care for orthopaedic conditions of the hand, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee and foot. Whether you dislocate your shoulder or have experienced pain for too long, our expert team of providers looks forward to serving you. Call the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine today at (210) 692-7400 or request an appointment online for the best orthopaedic care available.