Preventing And Treating The Shoulder Dislocation

Golden Clinics Blogs Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocations are classified into two categories. If the head of the humerus (arm bone) is partly out of the scapula, this is referred to as a partial dislocation (subluxation) (shoulder bone). A complete dislocation occurs where the head of the humerus is completely out of the scapula. Shoulder dislocations can be anterior (forward, 98 percent of the time), posterior (backward, 2% of the time), or inferior (downward, rare).

The Golf Ball Analogy

Consider the shoulder joint to be a golf ball on a tee. The ball represents the head of your humerus (arm bone), while the tee represents the glenoid fossa of your scapula (shoulder joint socket). Since the ball is bigger than the tee, it is brittle. Similarly, the shoulder joint makes for a lot of movement and freedom of motion, but this comes at the expense of flexibility due to the wide head of the humerus. Your surrounding shoulder muscles (rotator cuff, biceps, deltoids) help hold the joint during exercise and keep the ball on the tee, but this mechanism fails as the muscles get fatigued.

Causes of Dislocation

A physical impact, such as a forceful crash, rapid wrenching movement, or a collapse on the outstretched arm, is the most frequent cause of a first-time shoulder dislocation. These account for nearly 95% of shoulder dislocations, with the remaining 5% being atraumatic. This suggests that they are exacerbated by small events such as lifting the arm or placing it in a certain location whilst asleep. People who have atraumatic dislocations have muscle and connective tissue defects around the elbow.


  • Visible deformation (shoulder looks “out-of-place”)
  • Intense shoulder pain
  • Swelling and/or bruising
  • Inability to move the joint
  • May cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm or neck
  • Shoulder muscles may spasm due to pain

See a medical professional right away and don’t try to put your shoulder back in place yourself.

Recurrence Rates

Within two years after the first dislocation, 7 out of 10 people will dislocate their shoulder again. Recurrence is much more frequent in teens, though rates of first-time dislocation are comparable among all ages.

Dislocations In Sports Person

Shoulder dislocations are common in athletes. Overhead sports players and those who experience forceful crashes are, particularly at risk.

This includes sports like:

  • Rugby
  • Hockey
  • Football
  • Cycling
  • Volleyball
  • Tennis

A shoulder dislocation can occur with much less trauma if it is a recurrent injury or if your shoulder muscles are weak.

Pain Relief

Your extreme pressure will be eased after a doctor reduces your shoulder (pops it back into place), but you will also have some aches and pains. You can receive fast relief using a topical analgesic, like Biofreeze, on the area. Pressure reduction can also be achieved by the use of hot and cold therapy. Consult the doctor on whether hot or cold is safer for your dislocation, and then do what feels right for you. Heat can help loosen the shoulder before physical therapy, and cold can help ease some post-exercise pain. A shoulder wrap can offer both forms of therapy and allow you to ice your shoulder post-reduction.

Shoulder Immobilization

Your physician will probably recommend a sling after your shoulder reduction. This helps keep your shoulder immobilized in the best position while it heals. A sling is commonly worn for 1-3 weeks. Follow your doctor’s instructions on how long you should wear yours.

You might need a shoulder brace during recovery. The brace supports your shoulder while it heals and offers light compression to help reduce inflammation. Most braces still allow shoulder movement so they can be worn during strengthening exercises. You can wear a shoulder brace after your recovery to help prevent dislocations in the future. It offers support and prevents your shoulder from moving into the vulnerable range. A brace is more likely to be recommended if this is a recurring injury.

Rehabilitation Exercises

Physical exercises can help prevent long-term shoulder instability problems. Using an elastic resistance band or tubing is an affordable, flexible way to stretch and strengthen your shoulder. You should also use your TheraBand resistance tubing to build up surrounding muscles and help avoid another dislocation.


Doctors only prescribe surgical surgery or arthroscopic shoulder care if conventional treatment (sling, belt, physical therapy, etc.) fails. It may also be required if the underlying tendons, ligaments, bone, muscles, or nerves are damaged during the dislocation or if the shoulder were dislocated on a regular basis.

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