dislocated shoulderThe shoulder is a ball and socket joint, surrounded by fibrous tissues and muscles to help the top part of the arm bone, or the humerus, stay attached to the socket. However, since the socket joint in the shoulder is shallow to be able to allow the limb to move freely in wide movements, there will be injuries that can happen to it, one in particular is the dislocation of the shoulder.

The shoulder joint has three main bones that come together at the top of the shoulder. The first bone is called the humerus which is the arm bone, the second is called the scapula which is the shoulder blade, and finally, the clavicle. A shoulder dislocation is an injury that occurs when the humerus is detached or loses contact with the scapula.

There are two main types of shoulder dislocations, a partial dislocation, and a complete dislocation. The partial dislocation can be caused by rough sporting or an unfortunate accident which is not that severe. The shoulder is in a socket-like structure called glenoid. When a sheer forward force is applied on the shoulder, it can pop out of the socket partially causing a partial dislocation. The partial dislocation may not be very painful, but it is very dangerous at the same time. You have to visit your doctor at once and let them know how the problem has happened. The other type of the dislocation is a complete dislocation. The whole shoulder comes out of the socket causing severe pain. 

The shoulder can dislocate forward or backwards. The most common dislocation is an anterior shoulder dislocation, which occurs when the humerus is forced forward while being stretched out. Posterior dislocations are a lot less common and usually occur when falling with your arms spread out.


Symptoms of dislocated shoulders are easy enough to spot. Patients who suffer from this injury are generally in a significant amount of pain, particularly in the shoulder area. They may also notice that their arms are held at the side with the forearm turned outward and is slightly held away from the body. However, when shoulder dislocation is acquired, it would be best to seek medical help as soon as possible. Some people might find that forcing the bones back in place by themselves will treat it quickly, but any delay in professional shoulder dislocation treatment can increase the chances of permanent damage.

Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Bruising
  • Tingling in the shoulder
  • hand and arm discoloration


dislocated shoulder treatmentA doctor or a qualified medical professional should be the one to perform the restoration of the normal position with the bones in the shoulder joint by moving the head of the humerus back into the scapula—anaesthesia or pain medication will, of course, be given to the afflicted patients before this procedure starts. This is also known as the process of Closed Reduction. After the doctor has performed the Closed Reduction, he will then provide the patient with a shoulder immobilizer or a sling to prevent the shoulder from jostling or making movements that will irritate or strain the injury.

Afterwards, it will be all up to the patient to take care of their dislocated shoulder which would need a week or two’s rest. During the rest period, a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel should be applied to the injured shoulder for about fifteen to twenty minutes, four times a day for the first two days of the treatment. On the third day, applying a heating pad on you injury for less than twenty minutes would be a nice change to relieve sore muscles and reduce swelling.


Once the rest period is up, a check-up from the doctor, and finally the removal of the shoulder immobilizer or sling will follow, as well as some therapy for the rehabilitation of the injured shoulder. These will mostly contain specific exercises to restore the strength and movement in the shoulder. It is important to gradually work into specific movements that strengthen your rotator cuff, as these are the muscles that will stop the dislocation from occurring again.


Surgery is a rarely used option for shoulder dislocation treatments, though this might occur if a patient is experiencing constant shoulder instability.  These surgeries can be quite debilitating, some types even hindering your arm movement permanently. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to immediately consult with a professional and discuss your personal best options when treating shoulder dislocations.