Dislocated Shoulder and Shoulder Instability

What causes a dislocated shoulder and shoulder instability?

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the human body. It helps the arm rotate, lift and move overhead. Unfortunately, this great mobility also makes the shoulder more susceptible to dislocation and shoulder instability. In fact, the shoulder is the most frequently dislocated joint in the body. A dislocated shoulder occurs when the ball and socket within the shoulder become separated. This can happen from a fall, a indirect hit to an outstretched arm, or a sporting accident. The specialists at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho, serving Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and the surrounding communities of the Treasure Valley have extensive experience in working with patients who have suffered a dislocated shoulder.

Once a shoulder has dislocated, it is more prone to shoulder instability and recurring joint separation. The muscles and ligaments stretch and sometimes tear during a dislocation, causing weakness and shoulder instability when they do not heal properly. Shoulder problems and complications can occur from a dislocated shoulder when the labrum, a cup-shaped rim of cartilage that lines and reinforces the ball and socket joint, tears causing further instability. This can result in an increased tendency for repeated dislocations.

Who is at risk for a dislocated shoulder?

The patients at risk for a dislocated shoulder and shoulder instability are primarily athletes involved in contact sports such as football, basketball and hockey. Additional sports where shoulder instability can be a problem include: Volleyball, tennis, swimming, and pitching.  Shoulder movements, such as overhead activity and reaching behind oneself, can cause further risk of shoulder injury and shoulder instability.  Overhead motion places the shoulder in a position which can lead to increased stress on the muscles and ligaments that hold and support the shoulder joint.  These positions can place the joint in a position that is susceptible to shoulder dislocation and shoulder instability.

Have you dislocated your shoulder?

There are two ways to initiate a consultation with The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho:

You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review with our team.

You can schedule an office consultation with our team.

Request Case Review or Office Consultation

What are the symptoms of a dislocated shoulder and shoulder instability?

A traumatic dislocation of the shoulder can cause symptoms such as pain, weakness, grinding, popping and limited shoulder motion.  Prompt medical treatment should be sought for any suspected joint dislocation.  The shoulder should be replaced in its normal position (also known as reduction) by a medical professional or shoulder specialist who can manually manipulate the dislocated shoulder joint to put the ball (humeral head) back into the socket (glenoid). The reduction of a dislocated shoulder often reduces shoulder pain immediately when completed properly. Other dislocated shoulder symptoms include:

  • Pain – Significant pain that can often be felt along the arm as well as in the shoulder.
  • Muscle spasms
  • A visibly displaced shoulder or squaring of the shoulder
  • Inability or difficulty in moving the arm from its current position
  • A “popping” sensation or sound
  • Numbness in the arm
  • Shoulder weakness

Shoulder Instability symptoms:

  • Pain and popping caused by a shoulder injury
  • Repeated dislocations, or partial dislocations of the shoulder joint called subluxation episodes
  • Instances where the shoulder “gives out” or “gives way”
  • A persistent sensation of the shoulder joint feeling loose, slipping in and out of the socket or shoulder joint
  • Popping or grinding in the shoulder joint
  • Weakness, particularly involving the rotator cuff tendon
  • Persistent or transient numbness in the arm and fingers

What is the treatment for shoulder dislocation and shoulder instability?

The specialists at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho will assess the patient’s full range of motion and shoulder strength, and obtain a thorough medical background.  X-rays, an MRI scan, or other diagnostic tests may be required to determine the extent of shoulder instability, the reasons for shoulder pain, and to help identify the proper treatment plan for your shoulder. There are several treatment options available depending on the age, level of activity, and severity of the dislocated shoulder or shoulder instability problem.  The shoulder specialists at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho will individualize treatment to their patients’ specific return to work and return to sport needs.

Non-Surgical Treatment:

Non-surgical treatment may include use of a shoulder sling and shoulder immobilization.  The use of a shoulder sling will help with pain and proper healing. A combination of ice, rest and physical therapy may be used to help strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint.  Some patients have benefited from the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and aid in healing. Corticosteroid injections may also help with pain management and healing of the shoulder joint in certain situations.

Surgical Treatment:

Some cases of shoulder instability or dislocations may require surgery. The orthopedic experts at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho specialize in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder which is minimally-invasive and allows a quicker return to normal activities. They also have extensive experience with complex, open procedures for repairing dislocated shoulders which have had multiple, prior shoulder injuries and prior shoulder surgery. Patients in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and the surrounding communities of the Treasure Valley can receive the best care and treatment for shoulder instability or a dislocated shoulder.

For more information regarding a dislocated shoulder and shoulder instability, or to learn more about arthroscopic shoulder surgery as a shoulder stabilization treatment option, please contact The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho, serving Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and the surrounding communities of the Treasure Valley.

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