Shoulder Dislocation

What is dislocation of the shoulder?

If you have dislocated your shoulder, your upper arm bone (humerus) has moved out of your shoulder joint. This is the most frequently dislocated major joint of your body. Dislocation is often caused by a significant force that separates your shoulder joint’s ball (the top rounded portion of your upper arm bone) from your joint’s socket (glenoid).

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What are the symptoms of a shoulder dislocation?

The following are the most common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder. However, you may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in your upper arm and shoulder, which is usually worse when you move them
  • Swelling
  • Numbness and weakness
  • Bruising
  • Deformity of your shoulder

The symptoms of a dislocated shoulder may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a shoulder dislocation diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for a dislocated shoulder usually include an X-ray.

How is a shoulder dislocation treated?

Your healthcare provider discusses with you specific treatment for a shoulder dislocation, based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of your injury
  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of your injury
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Moving the head of your upper arm bone back into your shoulder joint, usually with an anesthetic
  • Immobilizing your shoulder with a sling after reduction
  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery, if nonsurgical measures do not restore stability