In some patients the ball (humeral head) comes out of the socket (glenoid), a condition called dislocation. It is associated with severe pain and inability to move the shoulder. It may happen due to injury to the shoulder during falls, road traffic accidents or while playing sports. This condition commonly affects younger people and these patients stop all sporting activities and other high demand jobs as they develop a fear of repeated dislocations. In many of these patients this condition can successfully be treated with key-hole (arthroscopic) surgery.
What is a Shoulder Dislocation?
A dislocated shoulder is a shoulder disorder that occurs when the ball of the upper arm bone comes out of the shoulder socket. In this condition, the anterior ligaments in the shoulder tear and cause pain and loss of function in the affected arm. Though the ligaments may heal, the shoulder may have even more laxity and instability than before the injury.
Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder
The common symptoms of shoulder dislocation include:
- Severe shoulder pain
- Swelling of your shoulder or upper arm
- Numbness or weakness in your arm and neck
- Difficult moving your arm around
- Your arm appears to be out of place
- Muscle spasms
Causes a Shoulder Dislocation
The shoulders are the most movable joints and most commonly dislocated joints. A dislocated shoulder can happen to anyone but are known to be more common in young men who are involved in sports and related physical activities. Among adults, women are at higher risk because they are more likely to fall.
The most common causes of shoulder dislocations include:
- Sports injuries
- Accidents, including traffic accidents
- Falling on your shoulder or outstretched arm
- Seizures and electric shocks
How is a Shoulder Dislocation Treated?
Your shoulder surgeon will discuss the most appropriate treatment for your shoulder dislocation, depending on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- The extent of your injury
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of your injury
- Your opinion or preference
Shoulder Dislocation Treatment
The initial level of treatment suggested for the shoulder dislocation would be R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Following this treatment, the dislocated shoulder joint would get back to its normal state. If your shoulder joint doesn’t turn back to a normal state, then Dr Chandra Sekhar may suggest one of the following treatment options:
- Repositioning: In this procedure, your doctor will replace the dislocated joint under anesthesia.
- Immobilization: Your will be asked to wear a splint or cast for several weeks to retain the replaced joint in its original position. This can prevent the joint from stress and strain due to movements. Your doctor would keep your joint immobile, depending on the severity of the injury.
- Medication: Once your joint return to normal, most of the pain will vanish away. If you still experience any discomfort, your doctor might prescribe pain relievers or a muscle relaxant.
- Surgery: Shoulder dislocation surgery is usually recommended when there is any evidence of nerve damage or blood vessel damage. It will be advised when your doctor is unable to replace your dislocated joint.
- Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation helps in the recovery process of a dislocated shoulder. After repositioning your shoulder joint to normal in case of repositioning or after removing the cast or splint in case of immobilization, your doctor will advise a rehabilitation plan that best fits you. The rehabilitation focuses on improving the joint’s strength and restoring the range of motion.