What Do You Need To Know About A Dislocated Shoulder?

Do you know the shoulder joint is the body’s most mobile joint? It can rotate in many directions. This advantage of the shoulder joint is the primary reason that makes it more susceptible to dislocation. 

What Is Shoulder Dislocation?

To understand what is a shoulder dislocation, let’s first discuss what the shoulder joint is.

The shoulder joint is also called a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is the rounded top of the bone in the upper arm (called humerus), which fits into the socket. 

When the top of the humerus sets out of its specific location in the shoulder joint, the shoulder joint is said to be dislocated.

A comparable injury called a shoulder subluxation happens when the top of the humerus is only partially displaced and not entirely out of its socket.

In some instances, shoulder dislocation occurs when an arm is twisted or pulled with excessive force in an upward, backward, or outward direction.

This excessive force literally pops the top of the humerus out of its socket. In other cases, a dislocated shoulder is the consequence of a fall on an outstretched arm, a decisive blow to the shoulder, a seizure, or a severe electric shock.

Seizures and shock may lead to shoulder dislocations as they cause extreme, unbalanced muscle contractions that could pull the humerus out of place.

What Are The Types Of Shoulder Dislocation?

Depending upon the direction of the dislocation, there are following three types of shoulder dislocation:

  • Anterior dislocation: Anterior dislocation is one of the most common types of shoulder dislocation, which accounts for more than 95% of total cases.

    In this, the top of the humerus is displaced forwards, towards the front of the body. In young people, the cause of anterior dislocation is generally sports-related. In older adults, it can be caused due to a fall on an outstretched arm. 

  • Posterior dislocation: This is a rare type of shoulder dislocation that accounts for just 2 – 4% of total cases.

    In posterior dislocation, the top of the humerus is displaced towards the back of the body. It generally occurs due to shock or seizures but can also happen because of a blow to the front of the shoulder or a fall on an outstretched arm.

  • Inferior dislocation: This is the rarest type of shoulder dislocation, which accounts for only one in every 200 cases. In this, the top of the humerus is displaced downward.

    It is caused by different types of trauma in which the arm is pulled violently downward. 

Almost all types of shoulder dislocations are related to traumas. At times, the dislocation occurs after normally harmless motions, such as rolling over in bed or elevating an arm.

In such cases, the exact cause may be that the shoulder ligaments are abnormally loose. Loose ligaments are often because of an inherited condition that can make a person more susceptible to dislocation in other body joints as well. 

Also Read: Rheumatic Joint Condition – A degenerative Joint Malady

What Are Dislocated Shoulder Symptoms?

There are various dislocated shoulder symptoms, including:

  • Bruising or swelling of shoulder or upper arm
  • Muscle spasms in your shoulder
  • Your arm appears to be out of place
  • Severe shoulder pain
  • Numbness and/or weakness in your neck, arm, hand, or fingers
  • Difficulty moving your arm

If you develop one or more of these dislocated shoulder symptoms, consult your doctor right away. While you are awaiting medical help, make sure you:

  • Don’t move the joint: Don’t try to move the injured shoulder joint or force it back to its original position. Moving it can damage your shoulder joint and its surrounding muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and ligaments. 
  • Ice the injured joint: Applying ice will help ease pain and swelling by checking internal bleeding and accumulation of fluids in and around your shoulder joint. 

Who Is At A Risk For A Dislocated Shoulder?

Shoulder dislocation can occur in anyone, although it’s more common in younger men who are generally involved in sports and other physical activities.

Older adults, particularly females, are more likely to fall, which puts them at significant risk for shoulder dislocation. 

What Are The Complications Of A Dislocated Shoulder?

Dislocated shoulder complications include:

  • Nerve or blood vessel damage in or around your shoulder joint
  • If you stretch or tear tendons or ligaments in your shoulder or damage nerves or blood vessels around your shoulder joint, you may require surgery to repair these tissues  
  • Tearing of the tendons, muscles, and ligaments that strengthen your shoulder joint
  • Shoulder instability, particularly if you have an acute dislocation or repeated dislocations, makes you more susceptible to re-injury.

How Is A Dislocated Shoulder Treated?

A dislocated shoulder treatment may include:

  • Closed reduction
  • Surgery
  • Immobilization
  • Medication
  • Rehabilitation

Suppose you have a simple shoulder dislocation without any significant nerve or tissue damage. In that case, your shoulder joint will likely improve within a couple of weeks, but you will remain prone to further dislocation.

Please do not resume activity too soon, as it can cause you to injure your shoulder joint or dislocate it again.

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for CheapMedicineShop.com. She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.