Shoulder Dislocation


Dislocated shoulder

What Is It?

A dislocated shoulder is when the top of your arm pops out of the socket that it normally rests in. This can occur in any direction but is most common to pop forward.

What causes a dislocated shoulder?

The most common way to dislocate a shoulder is to fall on an outstretched arm. Other causes are a force from behind, in front or above the shoulder, a traction force pulling on the arm, or repetitive dislocations causing chronic instability.

In elderly a fall onto a shoulder can also cause a fracture of humerus (upper arm bone) at the time of dislocation.

What does it feel like?

A dislocated shoulder feels like a sudden sharp pain with an intense ache that remains until the shoulder is relocated. Pain can radiate further down the arm and depending on the extent of the damage to underlying structures, you may feel tingling and numbness down the whole arm. Most people are unable to move the arm while the shoulder is dislocated and will often hold the elbow to support the arm.

How is it diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist can diagnose your shoulder injury from your symptoms, mechanism of injury and also with some simple tests. Most people are aware of the dislocation but will not know the extent of damage until further investigations are performed. It is very important that all dislocations are referred for X-ray to eliminate any other damage that was caused at the time of dislocation.

How can Back in Action Physiotherapy help?

At Back in Action we will promptly diagnose your injury and refer if needed. If your shoulder needs relocation we may be able to perform the relocation or we can refer you to the hospital for this. Once your shoulder is relocated we will help regain full movement in your neck and shoulder with mobilisations, massage, acupuncture and stretching. A progressive strengthening programme is vital for regaining full function in your shoulder so we will create a personalised strengthening programme for you including scapula retraining and shoulder strengthening. Painkillers and Anti-inflammatories can help to relieve some pain and we recommend you see your local Pharmacist or Doctor regarding the best type for you.