Understanding your shoulder injury: Shoulder dislocation
- Posted on: Jan 25 2018
The shoulder, or the glenohumeral joint is a ball in socket joint that is the most commonly dislocated joint in the body. The diagnosis is given when the humerus, the bone of the upper arm, becomes displaced from the glenoid, the cup like socket of the shoulder blade. The humerus can become displaced anteriorly (forward), posteriorly (backward), or inferiorly (downward). In ~95 percent of cases, the shoulder dislocates in the anterior direction.
Symptoms that can coincide with a shoulder dislocation are pain, swelling, inability to move the joint, and/or a visual deformity. The dislocation can be diagnosed by a physical exam and patient history. X-rays are utilized to confirm the diagnosis and an MRI is utilized to determine the extent of the damage. Common secondary injuries include capsular ligament tears, rotator cuff tears, Bankart lesion, SLAP lesion, and labral tears.
Initial treatment is simply ice and rest. The shoulder then needs to be reduced (put back into the correct position) by your doctor. This is usually performed through light manipulation and maneuvering. Surgery may be needed if nerve damage, blood vessel damage, or soft tissue tear is present. Physical therapy is required after a shoulder dislocation whether or not surgery is performed. The goals of therapy are to regain full motion and increase shoulder stability to prevent future dislocations. These goals are reached by minimizing compromising positions, increasing motion as stability allows, and improving rotator cuff strength to maintain proper positioning of the joint. Minor dislocation can heal in a few weeks but injuries with complications can take months to fully recover. The risk of repeated dislocations is as high as 20%. Be sure to come to Advanced Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation if you have a shoulder dislocation so that a skilled Physical Therapist can develop a plan to return full function to the shoulder and prevent future dislocations from occurring.
Posted in: Shoulder