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


What are the symptoms of a shoulder dislocation?

Symptoms may be a bit 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

The symptoms of a dislocated shoulder may seem like 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 an X-ray.

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
  • Immobilizing your shoulder with a sling after reduction
  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery, if nonsurgical methods don't restore stability
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