Dislocated Shoulder? How to Tell and What to Do

Your shoulder joint moves in several directions – forward, backward and downward, which affords you significant ease of movement in this area. But because you’re able to move this joint freely, your shoulder joint is also one of the most frequently dislocated joints in your body. A dislocated shoulder is caused when the top of your arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket, either due to a fall or blow, or even from a sharp twist of the arm.  In extreme cases, you may also experience nerve and tissue damage surrounding the shoulder joint.

One of the most common causes of shoulder dislocation is when playing sports. You’re at greater risk of sustaining this type of injury if you play football, rugby, soccer or volleyball, for example. Skiing and rock climbing can also make you more prone to shoulder dislocation.

So how do you know if your shoulder is dislocated? The following signs and symptoms are good indicators:

  • Difficulty moving the joint
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Severe pain
  • An obvious deformity or appearance that the shoulder is out of place
  • Weakness or tingling in the areas surrounding the injury, like your neck and arm

If you suspect your shoulder is dislocated, seek medical treatment immediately. Your arm bone will need to be placed back in its socket as soon as possible, since swelling and pain will only worsen with time. While you’re awaiting treatment, take these measures:

  • Ice your shoulder for 20 minutes to reduce pain and swelling by controlling internal bleeding and fluid buildup around the joint
  • Immobilize your arm with a sling to prevent additional damage
  • Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or Aleve

Once your dislocated shoulder is treated, the healing process can take anywhere from three to 12 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. You may experience stiffness for a prolonged period of time, which can be made to feel better with gentle stretching exercises. Talk to your doctor about the best exercise regimen to help you heal fully and safely.

Want to Learn More about Identifying a Dislocated Shoulder?
For more information about shoulder dislocation, or for any other questions regarding our services, schedule an appointment with The Orthopedic Center at 918-582-6800

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