Dislocated Shoulder

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A dislocation of the shoulder occurs when the upper arm bone (humerus) pops out of the socket (glenoid) of the shoulder blade (scapula). This can happen due to a traumatic injury, such as a fall or a blow to the shoulder, or from overuse or repetitive strain on the shoulder joint. A dislocated shoulder is a painful and often immobilizing injury that requires prompt medical attention. If left untreated, it can lead to complications such as nerve or blood vessel damage and recurring dislocations.

Symptoms of Dislocated Shoulder

The symptoms of a shoulder dislocation may include severe pain, swelling, and bruising in the shoulder area, difficulty moving the shoulder, weakness or numbness in the affected arm or hand, and a visibly out-of-place shoulder. The person may also experience a popping or tearing sensation at the time of injury. In some cases, the dislocated shoulder may also cause muscle spasms or cramps in the affected area. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if a dislocation is suspected, as prompt treatment can help reduce the risk of complications and improve outcomes

Causes of Dislocated Shoulder

A dislocation of the shoulder may occur due to various reasons such as trauma, falls, sports injuries, or accidents. It can also occur due to repetitive strain injury or overuse of the shoulder joint. Additionally, people with loose or unstable shoulder joints or certain medical conditions that affect the joints such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome, or osteoarthritis may also be at higher risk of experiencing shoulder dislocations.

Diagnostics of Dislocated Shoulder

The dislocation of the shoulder can be diagnosed through a physical examination by a medical professional, typically an orthopedic surgeon. The doctor may ask about the patient’s medical history and how the injury occurred. The doctor will also examine the shoulder for signs of swelling, deformity, or tenderness, and test the range of motion of the arm and shoulder. In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis and to evaluate the extent of any associated damage, such as fractures or soft tissue injuries.

Complications of Dislocated Shoulder

Complications of shoulder dislocation may include:

  • Recurrent dislocation: After an initial shoulder dislocation, the likelihood of experiencing another dislocation increases.
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage: Shoulder dislocation may cause damage to the nerves or blood vessels that pass near the shoulder joint, resulting in numbness, weakness, or tingling sensations.
  • Bankart lesion: This is a type of shoulder injury that occurs when the labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder joint, is torn. This can lead to instability and an increased risk of recurrent dislocations.
  • Rotator cuff injury: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that help stabilize the shoulder joint. A dislocated shoulder may cause injury to the rotator cuff, leading to pain and limited mobility.
  • Osteoarthritis: Repeated shoulder dislocations can lead to osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joint.

Treatment of Dislocated Shoulder

Nonsurgical treatment options for shoulder dislocation include:

  • Closed reduction: The doctor can try to move the humerus bone back into the socket by gently manipulating the arm and shoulder.
  • Immobilization: After the shoulder has been put back in place, the arm may be immobilized in a sling or brace for a few weeks to allow the tissues to heal.
  • Physical therapy: Once the sling is removed, the doctor may recommend physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles and improve range of motion in the shoulder.

There are different surgical treatments for a dislocated shoulder, depending on the severity and complexity of the injury. Here are some of the common surgical procedures used to treat shoulder dislocations:

  • Closed Reduction: This is a non-surgical procedure where the doctor will manipulate the shoulder joint to put the humerus bone back into the socket.
  • Open Reduction: This surgical procedure is used when closed reduction is unsuccessful, or there are other complications such as a fracture or nerve damage. It involves making an incision to realign the humerus bone with the shoulder socket.
  • Bankart Repair: This surgical procedure is used to repair a tear in the labrum (the fibrous ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket) which can occur during a shoulder dislocation. The surgeon will reattach the torn labrum to the rim of the shoulder socket.
  • Latarjet Procedure: This is a complex surgery that is used for recurrent shoulder dislocations where the bone defect in the socket is repaired by transferring a piece of bone from the shoulder blade to the front of the shoulder socket.
  • Arthroscopic Surgery: In some cases, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery may be used to treat a shoulder dislocation. The surgeon will make small incisions and use a tiny camera to guide small instruments to make repairs to the damaged tissues.

The type of surgical treatment will depend on the individual patient’s specific condition and the severity of the injury.