Seeking treatment for a dislocated shoulder falls somewhere between the field-expedience of an super hero thrusting his wounded shoulder back in place and visiting an orthopedist. Actually, if like many you consider your orthopedist to be a super hero, then rest assured when it comes to your injuries, with great power comes great responsibility. Not sure what to do if you have a dislocated shoulder? Rather than sending up a flare, get to your orthopedist. You’ll marvel at the results.
What happens when you dislocate your shoulder?
When one refers to as “dislocated shoulder,” it means just that – your shoulder has, quite literally, disconnected from its socket. Partial dislocations occur when the upper part of the arm (humerus) becomes partially dislodged; a complete dislocation is when it becomes fully dislodged. Dislocated shoulders can occur from overuse or an acute injury, most often, from a fall.
No time for Self Treatment
When either a partial or full dislocation occurs, expect your dislocated shoulder to show some swelling, bruising and deformity. You are going to be in a good deal of pain and it will be nearly impossible to move the joint. Tingling and weakness are to be expected in shoulder injuries. Know you should not treat your dislocated shoulder yourself. Waste no time and follow these steps en route to immediate, urgent or emergency medical care:
1. Avoid moving the shoulder joint. If you have been trained in applying a splint or a sling, you may do so. If someone else is with you, even better. Whatever you do, do not try to realign the bone or force it back into place. You are going to damage your shoulder joint as well as the nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and muscles in the area.
2. Apply ice on the injury. Icing the injured joint can help reduce pain and swelling. It can also control any internal bleeding and fluid buildup that may be surrounding the joint.
- Seek immediate medical attention. An orthopaedist will inspect the site of the injury and will very likely request imaging of your shoulder joint to see the full extent of the damage. These images will guide the doctor in treatment.
- Manual Manipulation. The most effective treatment for a dislocated shoulder also may be the most primitive, in that your orthopedist will manually move the ball of the humerus back into the socket. Not to worry, expect to be under general anesthetic, and your orthopaedist will use an immobilization tool to ensure stability during the procedure.
- Post-procedure. Following the procedure, you most likely will sport a sling for at least a few days. You may be prescribed anti-inflammatories or pain-reducing medication, and will be advised to rest for a few days. Your orthopedist may also prescribe a course of physical therapy to restore joint strength, stability, and range of motion once he sees fit for the sling to be removed.
Time is Everything
Left untreated, dislocated shoulders can worsen over time, possibly affecting other joints as you compensate for the damaged one. Failure to seeek immediate treatment could mean the difference between developing a lifetime of chronic pain and undergoing multiple surgeries, vs. rehabilitating over the course of a few weeks.
Lifestyle changes can help you avoid recurrence of a dislocation injury. Simply being cautious when riding your bike or walking down the stairs is a good start. When healing, listen to your orthopaedist – rest when he says to and follow his instructions. Don’t strain, and stay the course with strength training and physical therapy, even while at home. Inactivity can cause your shoulder joints to stiffen and may lead to a frozen shoulder so keep moving – once your shoulder dislocation injury has fully healed, stretch and exercise every day.
Shoulder Dislocation Treatment in Maryland
When it comes to dislocations – or any other orthopaedic injury – don’t shoulder the burden yourself. The Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland provides expert care to patients with musculoskeletal conditions, including shoulder injuries. With four convenient locations throughout central Maryland, our orthopaedists and technicians, PAs and physical therapists are looking forward to working with you to get you back in tip-top condition. Call us at today (410) 644-1880 for prompt medical attention or request an appointment now.