All You Need To Know About Shoulder Dislocation

Known as the most mobile joint in the human body, the shoulder joint is characterized by a ball-and-socket mechanism where the head of the humerus bone fits into the glenoid cavity of the scapula. The shoulder’s ball-and-socket structure allows it to rotate in multiple directions, making it highly mobile. Though it’s attached to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the shoulder can become unstable due to its mobility. As a result, the shoulder has the highest chance of dislocating out of all the joints in the body. For example, shoulder dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone has separated from the socket.

Types of Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocations can be partial (subluxation) or complete, with the humerus bone entirely out of its socket. Partial shoulder dislocations mean the humerus bone is only partly out of its socket. Complete shoulder dislocations are more severe and require medical attention to put the bone back in its place. In addition to bone displacement, shoulder dislocation cases can also involve tears in the ligaments or labrum within the shoulder joint.

Shoulder dislocation can occur forward, backwards, or downward. Anterior shoulder dislocations are the most common type, which occur when an injury forces the arm to move forward or downward while being abducted from the body. This can result in the humerus bone sliding out of its socket in the front of the shoulder joint. The humeral head anterior dislocation causes the ball to exert intense upward pressure on the front glenoid labrum at the socket’s front.

A Hill-Sachs lesion often accompanies Bankart lesions, which involve damage to the anterior inferior part of the glenoid labral complex in the shoulder joint. A Hill-Sachs lesion is similar to a dent in your bone. The ball at the humerus top, which is located in the shoulder blade, may get harmed if your shoulder dislocates and is forced against the lip of the socket.

Symptoms of Dislocated Shoulder

The followings are the signs and symptoms of a dislocated shoulder:

  • Severe shoulder pain, particularly in the joint.
  • Shoulder deformity or a noticeable misalignment.
  • Numbness, swelling and tingling.
  • Bruising or redness
  • Having trouble moving your shoulder or shoulder weakness.

You should get treatment right away if you have any of these symptoms.

Diagnosing the Dislocated Shoulder

Your doctor will examine any prior injuries, assess your symptoms, check your shoulder and arm, and conduct a thorough medical history to determine whether you have a shoulder dislocation. In addition, imaging tests such as an X-ray will likely be required to determine whether there are any other associated fractures or soft tissue damage.

Treatment Options for a Dislocated Shoulder

A range of preventive treatments may be used as treatment alternatives. The dislocation may cause muscular spasms, which can aggravate the pain. Recurrent shoulder instability occurs when the shoulder dislocates repeatedly. A Latarjet Surgery might be necessary for shoulder instability and shoulder dislocation. As shoulder instability is usually caused by bone loss or a fracture of the glenoid, Latarjet is used to restore shoulder joint stability.

A brace can occasionally help if shoulder dislocation becomes a recurring problem. But, if rehabilitation and bracing fail, surgery may be required to repair or tighten the torn or strained ligaments that assist hold the joint in place, especially in young athletes.

After undergoing shoulder dislocation surgery, a sling will be placed around your arm to support it during the four to the six-week recovery period. After that, your doctor will start a physical rehabilitation program to help you in regaining strength and mobility.

Rehabilitation Program

After the pain and swelling have subsided, your doctor will initiate a rehabilitation program. Such programs help in regaining the shoulder’s range of motion and building up the muscles. Rehabilitation may also help in the prevention of future shoulder dislocations. The rehabilitation process will start with simple muscular toning activities. Weight training can also be introduced afterwards. A brace might occasionally be helpful if shoulder dislocation develops into a recurrent problem.

Long-Term Prognosis for Dislocated Shoulder

After a shoulder dislocation, the joint becomes more susceptible to instability and recurrent dislocations, especially if the initial injury was not treated properly. Elderly patients who have experienced shoulder dislocations are at a higher risk of developing rotator cuff tears. The rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, can be more prone to tearing in older adults. Therefore, an orthopedist should regularly monitor elderly and chronic patients.