The shoulder joint is the body’s most mobile joint. It can turn in many directions. But, this advantage also makes the shoulder an easy joint to dislocate. Shoulder dislocations are common injuries in contact sports such as football, rugby and wresting but can also occur with a fall or other trauma.

A partial dislocation (subluxation) means the ball is partially out of the socket. A complete dislocation means it is all the way out of the socket. Both partial and complete dislocations cause pain and unsteadiness in the shoulder. Often, dislocation may tear ligaments or tendons in the shoulder or damage nerves.

Your Orthopaedic Clinic doctor will examine the shoulder and order an X-ray. It is important that he know how the dislocation happened and whether the shoulder had ever been dislocated before.

Generally, dislocations are set at the time of injury either on the field or in the emergency room. This process is called closed reduction. Severe pain stops almost immediately once the shoulder joint is back in place.

After a dislocation, the shoulder may be immobilize in a sling for several weeks following closed reduction. Plenty of rest is needed. The sore area can be iced 3 to 4 times a day.

Physical Therapy may also help prevent dislocating the shoulder again in the future. Rehabilitation will begin with gentle muscle toning exercises. Later, weight training can be added.

If shoulder dislocation becomes a chronic condition, a brace can sometimes help. However, if therapy and bracing fail, surgery may be needed to repair or tighten the torn or stretched ligaments that help hold the joint in place, particularly in young athletes.

The orthopaedic surgeons and shoulder specialists at The Orthopaedic Clinic have years of experience in treating shoulder dislocations both surgically and non-surgically. If you or someone you know has had a dislocation or other shoulder instability, our experts can get you back to a life with a stable, pain-free shoulder. Come see us today for a consultation.