A dislocated shoulder is the result of the head of the upper arm (the humerus) becoming either partially or fully dislodged from the glenoid socket. A very common injury amongst athletes — especially those who participate in contact sports like football, soccer and gymnastics, each of which can result blunt force trauma – a shoulder dislocation can also be the result of falls, collisions and car accidents. Dislocations can also occur over time as the result of repetitive motions one might find in tennis, golf, and swimming; or due to one’s occupation, particularly those that require repetitive motions as found in painting, construction work and lifting.
Shoulder Dislocation Symptoms
In most cases, you will know immediately if you have dislocated your shoulder. Signs to look for include —
- Having experienced a blunt force or accident affecting your shoulder
- Visible deformity in your shoulder or if your shoulder appears or seems to be out of place
- Bruising and swelling
- Intense pain
- Decreased range of mobility and motion, or complete immobility
- Numbness, weakness, and tingling in the shoulder area extending to the hand area
- Muscle spasms
In the event you do dislocate your shoulder under no circumstances should you attempt to position it back into place, as it could increase the damage. Instead, seek qualified medical treatment immediately. While you are heading to your orthopedist or urgent care, apply ice to reduce swelling and pain. Be sure to immobilize your shoulder with a make-shift sling or splint.
Once you are seen, expect your orthopedist to examine the site and order imaging to ensure a complete and accurate picture of the dislocation, which may include other damage that might have occurred. If the injury is determined to be a dislocation with no other concerns, your orthopedist likely will perform reduction – a non-surgical technique in which he will manually manipulate the ball of your shoulder back into the socket. You should feel immediate relief from pain once the shoulder bone and collarbone are back in the proper position.
If the damage is extensive, you may be referred for surgery. This procedure can be performed arthroscopically to maximize healing and reduce risk of infection and scarring.
When it comes to recovery, immobilization is key so expect to wear a sling for a while. Icepacks and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication will help reduce pain and swelling. Physical therapy will be essential to recovery and rehabilitation by helping you regain range of motion, flexibility and strength; it may also help prevent dislocations in the future.
Shoulder Dislocation Treatment in San Antonio
If you suspect you’ve dislocated your shoulder, don’t delay seeking medical attention. At the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, our expert team of orthopedists and medical professionals treat a wide range of orthopedic injuries and conditions – from arthritis to tendonitis to sprains and strains. If you have questions about our specialties and services, call the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at (210) 692-7400 or use our secure online request form.