What is shoulder dislocation?
Dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus dislocates from the socket of the scapula. The most common form of dislocation occurs when the humerus dislocates forward in respect to the socket (called the Glenoid Fossa). This is called an anterior dislocation and frequently damages the ligaments in the front of the joint.
How did I dislocate my shoulder?
It can occur as a result of a fall onto an outstretched arm or when direct impact occurs from either an anterior or posterior direction. It can also occur insidiously, for example when throwing a ball, when a person has a general hyper mobility of the shoulder ligaments.
What does it feel like?
After a first dislocation there is usually a lot of pain and restriction of movement. The patient will often describe a feeling of something being ‘not right’ in the event of a dislocation over and above then pain that occurs. Subsequent dislocations tend to be less painful but movement will be restricted and patient will often know what has happened in a subsequent dislocation.
How is a shoulder dislocation diagnosed?
Clinical signs are often enough for the diagnosis. The shoulder will often be sitting anteriorly to the scapular displaying a bulge. Movement will be restricted. An x-ray will provide further details of the dislocation and will show associated fractures. MRI will detail the condition of the ligaments and the labrum that are frequently damaged in the trauma.
How do I fix a shoulder dislocation?
For dislocations with little structural damage and older persons conservative measures may work. This consists of resting the shoulder in a sling for 2-4 weeks and then regaining range and strength in the rotator cuff muscles. Surgery is usually required if there are larger fractures or stability is compromised too much for cuff strengthening to cope with.
Will I need surgery for my shoulder dislocation?
Dislocations at an age under 30 often require surgery to repair the ligaments as the joint capsule still has a degree of mobility at this age. From 40 the capsule starts to exhibit more stiffness and therefore is able to be rehabilitated using a more conservative approach not involving surgery. For larger fractures of the ball and/or socket surgery will often be required regardless of age.
How do I stop the dislocation from happening again?
A comprehensive strengthening program involving the scapula and humeral stability muscles would be a minimum requirement of the post dislocation protocol. Surgery generally has positive results but does not guarantee ongoing stability of the shoulder.