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What Are the Symptoms of a Dislocation?

DeBerardino, MD. Daniel J. Solomon, MD. Matthew T.

Shoulder Dislocation | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Provencher, MD. Differentials Proximal humerus fracture Distal clavicle fracture Acromioclavicular joint separation Full details. ACR appropriateness criteria: shoulder pain - traumatic ACR appropriateness criteria: acute trauma to the knee Full details. I have some feedback on:. Submit Feedback. The most common variety is a forward anterior dislocation.


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Shoulder dislocation may also cause numbness, weakness or tingling near the injury, such as in your neck or down your arm. The muscles in your shoulder may spasm from the disruption, often increasing the intensity of your pain.

Because it moves in several directions, your shoulder can dislocate forward, backward or downward, completely or partially, though most dislocations occur through the front of the shoulder. In addition, fibrous tissue that joins the bones of your shoulder can be stretched or torn, often complicating the dislocation. It takes a strong force, such as a sudden blow to your shoulder, to pull the bones out of place.

Extreme rotation of your shoulder joint can pop the ball of your upper arm bone out of your shoulder socket. Partial dislocation — in which your upper arm bone is partially in and partially out of your shoulder socket — also may occur.

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Males in their teens or 20s, a group that tends to be physically active, are at highest risk of shoulder dislocation. If you stretch or tear ligaments or tendons in your shoulder or damage nerves or blood vessels around your shoulder joint, you may need surgery to repair these tissues.

Finger Dislocation

Once you've dislocated your shoulder joint, you may be more susceptible to future shoulder dislocations. To avoid a recurrence, follow the specific strength and stability exercises that you and your doctor have discussed for your injury. Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care like they've never experienced.


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Once you have dislocated your shoulder, you are more likely to dislocate it again, particularly if you play a contact sport. When the arm bone is forced out of its socket, it remains attached to the muscles of the shoulder blade and upper chest. These muscles pull the arm bone against the shoulder and chest, even when the bone is out of its socket and off center.

Finger Dislocation & Metacarpal Block

If these muscles are in spasm, they need to be relaxed before the doctor can move the arm bone back into its socket. Your doctor may give you medications to ease your pain and relax your shoulder muscles. Then the doctor will pull carefully against these muscles until the head of your humerus slips back into its socket. Sometimes, doctors use arm weights on the side of the dislocation to make it easier to extend these tight muscles. This treatment, with or without the weights, is called closed reduction.

Once your shoulder joint is back in its normal position, you will rest your arm in a sling for one to four weeks. Teenagers tend to need the sling longer than older people. You also will begin a physical therapy program to restore the normal strength and range of motion in your shoulder joint. If you continue to have severe shoulder pain after closed reduction or if your injured shoulder is loose and unstable in spite of physical therapy, you may need surgery to repair the fibrous tissues that support your shoulder joint.

Call your doctor immediately if you cannot move your shoulder after a fall or other traumatic injury or if your shoulder is painful, swollen, tender or unusually shaped. The outlook depends on many factors, including the severity of your shoulder injury, your age and your participation in athletic activity. Repeat injury may make your shoulder unstable enough that it needs to be repaired with surgery.