Shoulder Dislocation/Instability

Institutes & Services > TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. Muscles and tendons keep the ball on the upper arm bone (humerus) in the socket on the shoulder blade (scapula). When a shoulder dislocation occurs, the pain can be significant, and you should seek treatment immediately. TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute has assembled a team of nationally renowned surgeons and specialists who offer advanced treatment for a shoulder dislocation.

Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocation is the ball partially or fully popping out of the socket. Depending on the injury, you may have muscle or tendon tears or nerve damage. A dislocated shoulder often involves a tear in the labrum, the cartilage around the socket that helps seal it, like a rubber gasket or rim. Shoulder dislocation can be associated with rotator cuff tearing as well, especially in older patients.

Shoulder dislocation causes

The main cause of shoulder dislocation is trauma, a severe sudden injury that can pull the shoulder out of socket, from:

  • Accidents, including traffic accidents
  • Electric shock
  • Falling on your shoulder or arm
  • Neurologic seizures, such as those from epilepsy
  • Sports injuries

Shoulder dislocation symptoms

For partial and full dislocations, the primary symptom is sudden severe pain. Other symptoms may include:

  • Deformity
  • Numbness and/or weakness
  • Pain and difficulty when moving your arm
  • Swelling and bruising

Shoulder dislocation treatment

Treatment depends on whether you have had one or multiple shoulder dislocations.

  • First dislocation—putting the shoulder back into place, a procedure called a closed reduction. Severe pain usually stops immediately.
  • Second dislocation—you may wear a sling or immobilizing device for several weeks to stabilize your shoulder.
  • Repeated shoulder dislocations—minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to repair the labrum or open surgery to repair or replace the damaged joint.
  • Physical therapy can strengthen your shoulder after treatment.

Shoulder dislocation risk factors

Risk factors for shoulder dislocation depend on age and activities.

  • Accidents, including traffic accidents
  • Contact sports such as football and other physical activities, especially young men
  • Falls, especially older women

Shoulder dislocation prevention

Although trauma is hard to prevent, you can take steps to minimize your risk of shoulder dislocation by:

  • Avoiding high-risk activities
  • Doing warmups appropriate for your activity
  • Knowing the proper techniques for your sport or activity
  • Wearing proper shoes to help maintain your balance to avoid falls
  • Wearing protective sports gear

Make an appointment

Learn more about shoulder dislocation services or make an appointment with a TriHealth orthopedic specialist. Call 513 246 7846.

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