Dislocated Shoulder Symptoms

How to tell if your shoulder is dislocated?

A shoulder is dislocated when the ball of the shoulder joint is forced out of the socket, generally after a traumatic injury. It results in heavy pain, makes the shoulder look misshapen, and greatly restricts your range of motion. If you're experiencing these symptoms, you likely need immediate medical attention to have the joint reset in its proper position.

Shoulder dislocations can be partial or complete, and they vary in the degree of the dislocations and even the direction in which the ball of the joint slips out. Treatment usually depends on the both of these factors.

Types of Shoulder Dislocation

Traumatic Shoulder Dislocation / Bankart

The most common symptoms of a traumatic dislocated shoulder include a complete inability to move the arm and severe pain or numbness from the shoulder to the forearm. The shoulder loses its rounding when completely dislocated, generally causing it to protrude frontward in as an anterior dislocation or, less frequently, backward as a posterior dislocation. An anterior dislocation can result in a Bankart lesion, a tear in the cartilage and ligaments which can destabilize the shoulder and lead to recurrent dislocations; similarly, a posterior dislocation can result in a reverse Bankart lesion.

Partially Dislocated Shoulder/ Subluxating Shoulder

Also known as a subluxed shoulder, a partially dislocated shoulder will cause intense pain and clicking in it. While a subluxing shoulder will usually slip back in to place, it will still result in severe pain and a feeling of instability in the affected shoulder.

Multi-Directional Shoulder Dislocation

On occasion, a shoulder might dislocate in several directions simultaneously. These multi-directional dislocations are the rarest, but they're not uncommon in patients with hyperflexible joints or connective tissue disorders.

What to do for a dislocated shoulder?

If you have severe pain in your shoudler and notice a deformation of its usual shape, you should visit the nearest emergency room as soon as possible and have the shoulder reset. The emergency room doctors will recommend you follow up with an orthopedic specialist, who will treat the symptoms of the dislocation. After a short physical examination, your orthopedic specialist will take X-rays and an MRI of the affected shoulder to assess any damage to the bone, cartilage, or ligaments. If you're diagnosed with a tear of the stabilizing cartilage and ligaments, your orthopedic specialist will likely recommend a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. But if the shoulder hasn't suffered significant structural damage, immobilization of the affected shoulder and physical therapy might be the best conservative alternative.

If you are in pain from a dislocated shoulder, there are many treatment options available that can get you back on track in no time. Find out more here or book an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists here.

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