It Could be a Dislocation

Shoulder dislocations are synonymous with sports such as football and hockey but if you attempt to brace yourself with an extended arm after a fall in baseball, volleyball or gymnastics, you could be just as susceptible to a shoulder dislocation.

No one wants to sideline themselves because of some shoulder discomfort or go through a time-consuming shoulder surgery and the ensuing recovery process.

However, an untreated shoulder injury could lead to damage to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the shoulder as well as leave us more susceptible to further injuries or mobility complications.

Signs of a Shoulder Dislocation

We carry a lot on our shoulders. From shampooing our hair to carrying a laundry basket from one side of the house to the other, we use our shoulders for nearly every one of our daily tasks. It carries the greatest range of motion of any joint in our bodies and thus requires a great level of flexibility in order to maintain proper function.

As our shoulder rotates nearly a full 360 degrees, pain and discomfort may not be instantly recognized after an injury. It’s important not to overlook certain aches and pains if it only occurs during certain rotations or movements of the shoulder because shoulder injuries can quickly progress to a complete lack of mobility, rendering athletes and accountants alike much less effective at their jobs and make life in general much more complicated. Watch for these signs of a shoulder dislocation to prevent worsening symptoms:

  • Bruising or swelling around the affected area
  • Severe pain at the time of the injury
  • Deformation, such as a small bump, in front of or behind the joint
  • Lingering tenderness of the injured area
  • Pain or discomfort when moving the shoulder or the upper arm

Diagnosing Shoulder Dislocations

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you should consult with your local orthopedic surgeon immediately to limit the severity of your symptoms and receive the quickest recovery.

Your orthopedic surgeon will perform a physical examination of the shoulder to identify the root cause of your pain and discomfort. Examining which points are tender or bruised and evaluating the flexibility of your shoulder joint should give the physician a good idea of the severity of your condition. If there is not an obvious sign of dislocation, the sports medicine specialist may perform an x-ray, MRI or ultrasound to get a deeper look into the joint to confidently diagnose your shoulder dislocation.

Treating a Dislocated Shoulder

Patients suffering from a dislocated shoulder require both conservative and proactive recovery steps to receive the best possible treatment for a dislocated shoulder and ensure full recovery of their shoulder’s strength and mobility. Your sports medicine doctor will provide a sling to help support and immobilize the joint to prevent further injury, a consistent schedule of ice to reduce swelling and pain, rest and pain medication if necessary. Once the patient is ready to exercise the joint, their doctor will work to reintroduce movement to the joint to promote flexibility and muscle growth through physical therapy.

Patients with severe and persisting pain, immobility and discomfort may require shoulder surgery.