Shoulder Dislocation

What is a shoulder dislocation?

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 major force that separates your shoulder joint's ball (the top rounded part of your upper arm bone) from your joint's socket (glenoid).

Front view of dislocated shoulder.

What are the symptoms of a shoulder dislocation?

Symptoms may be different for each person. Symptoms may include:

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

These symptoms may be caused by other conditions or health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a shoulder dislocation diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will take a full health history and give you a physical exam. Diagnostic tests often include X-rays and an MRI.

How is a shoulder dislocation treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment may include:

  • Moving the head of your upper arm bone back into your shoulder joint (reduction), often with an anesthetic
  • Limiting shoulder movement (immobilization) with a sling after reduction
  • Rehab (rehabilitation)
  • Surgery, if nonsurgical methods don't restore stability
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