A shoulder dislocation can be a very painful injury, and it requires immediate medical attention and follow-up care. If you suspect that you may have a shoulder dislocation, this guide will help you understand the symptoms and what to expect in terms of treatment and recovery.
What Is a Shoulder Dislocation?
A shoulder dislocation occurs when the bone of the upper arm pops out of a socket that forms part of the shoulder blade. Since the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body, dislocations are fairly common. Patients might dislocate their shoulder in a forward, backward, or downward position, and the shoulder can be either partially or completely dislocated. Forward dislocations are the most frequent type of shoulder dislocation, and dislocations could sometimes be complicated by tears in the fibrous tissue that connects the bones of the shoulder.
What Causes Shoulder Dislocation?
Strong impacts with significant force, including those from falls and injuries from contact sports or car accidents, often result in a dislocated shoulder. Rotating the shoulder into or out of extreme positions may also lead to a dislocation. Young men in their teens and 20s are at an elevated risk of shoulder dislocation due to the increased physical activity that is common among this age group.
What Are The Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder?
Patients who have a dislocated shoulder may experience intense pain in the arm and shoulder, and they will normally be unable to move the shoulder at all. The shoulder itself typically appears visibly deformed and out of place, and swelling or bruising are frequently present. Numbness or tingling might be felt along the shoulder and down into the arm, and muscle spasms may occur in the area.
If a dislocated shoulder is suspected, the patient should seek emergency medical care. While waiting for treatment, it is important to place a sling or splint around the shoulder so that it does not move from its position. The patient should never try to force the shoulder back into place; this can cause serious damage. If possible, icing the shoulder joint can help to reduce swelling and pain.
How Is a Dislocated Shoulder Evaluated?
At Holistic Orthopedics New York, we provide a comprehensive evaluation of shoulder dislocations. First, a physical examination is performed. The doctor inspects the shoulder for pain, tenderness, swelling, and deformities, and x-rays are also taken. X-rays can confirm the dislocation and help the doctor identify the specific type of dislocation that is involved, and they will also show any broken bones or additional damage to the joint.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
Immediate treatment for a dislocated shoulder involves moving the bones back to their proper position. This is known as a closed reduction. After the patient has been given a muscle relaxant or a sedative, the physician will attempt to gently maneuver the bones back into their natural alignment. If this manipulation is successful, the patient should have an almost immediate reduction in his or her pain level.
Patients who have had a shoulder dislocation are at an increased risk of experiencing a second one, and surgical options may need to be considered for individuals who have had multiple dislocations. Surgery is especially beneficial for patients who have weak ligaments or weakness in their shoulder joint, and it is recommended for patients who have nerve or blood vessel damage as a result of their shoulder dislocation.
After the shoulder has been moved back to its normal position, immobilization might be needed. This is typically accomplished through the use of a sling or specialized splint, and patients may need to wear their immobilizing device for up to three weeks. The length of time that immobilization is necessary depends on the type of dislocation the patient experienced and how long it has been since the patient’s injury.
What Types of Medication Might Be Needed?
During recovery from a shoulder dislocation, the patient will most likely be given a prescription for pain relievers. These medications can help the patient remain comfortable while his or her shoulder heals. When taking any medication, patients should always ask their doctor about potential side effects, and they should inform the prescribing physician about any bothersome or worsening side effects. The doctor may be able to switch the patient to a pain reliever with fewer side effects, and he or she might also suggest alternative methods of pain relief. Some patients can benefit from using a muscle relaxant during their recovery, too.
What Rehabilitation Options Are Available?
Patients who have had a shoulder dislocation need to have regular rehabilitation appointments during their recovery. For this type of injury, rehabilitation normally emphasizes physical therapy. Patients will often be asked to begin physical therapy once their doctor has cleared them to remove their sling or splint. The physical therapist will guide the patient through a series of exercises and stretches designed to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the shoulder joint. The exercises will also help improve the stability of the shoulder and reduce the risk of future dislocation.
At Spine Orthopedics and Rehabilitation New York, we provide private physical therapy sessions for all of our patients. Each session lasts an hour, and our physical therapists focus on helping each patient regain as much shoulder function as possible. Patients can ask any questions they may have, and there is always a physician on-site for additional queries.
How Can Take Care of My Shoulder At Home?
In addition to doctor’s appointments and physical therapy, patients can take several steps at home to improve their treatment outcome. For example, it is important to limit overhead lifting and heavy lifting during the recovery period, and patients should try to avoid painful movements and any specific movement that may have caused their dislocation. To avoid potential complications like frozen shoulder, the patient should ask his or her care team about how to achieve an appropriate balance between resting the shoulder and exercising it to maintain a healthy range of motion.