IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATE : We’re here to support accident victims and to continue to provide superior care for those in need during this ongoing crisis Learn More

Shoulder Dislocation

A shoulder dislocation is a joint injury where the bone comes out of its normal position within the joint. When you dislocate your shoulder, you will likely lose the ability to move your shoulder and may also experience sudden, extreme pain. In fact, it is such a painful experience that you may wonder whether or not you’ve broken a bone in the movement. Any type of joint injury can be incredibly painful and it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to make sure you heal properly. The team at AICA Orthopedics in Snellville includes orthopedic doctors who are skilled in identifying and treating joint dislocations so you can begin experiencing relief from shoulder pain.

The shoulder is one of the most flexible joints and has a wide range of motion, so when you have shoulder pain from a dislocated shoulder it can really have a big impact on a lot of your daily routines. Sometimes we don’t notice how much we use our shoulders until one is damaged. The shoulder joint is intricate and fragile, so if you dislocate your shoulder then you want to trust your treatment plan to the best orthopedic doctors in Snellville.

Causes of a Shoulder Dislocation

Sports injuries

Athletes and those who participate in contact sports are more at risk of a dislocated shoulder injury. Any forceful contact with another player or a fall to the ground can lead to dislocating your shoulder. Often times sports injuries occur when you’ve been moving around and abruptly take a blow or fall. If you brace your arms to catch yourself or ward off a hit, it can put pressure on your shoulder joint and force a dislocation.

Car Accidents

It is possible to dislocate your shoulder in a car accident from bracing your arms against the dashboard or other part of the car. The force of the impact can send a jolt through your rigid, tensed arms and force the bone out of place. You may also dislocate your shoulder through a seat belt injury, and in cases where the airbags don’t deploy to help reduce the amount of jostling and shaking.

Falling

This is another example of where bracing yourself with your arms outstretched can cause a dislocated shoulder. If you trip and fall, it is a natural reaction to try and brace yourself for impact. However, this can sometimes go poorly and you end up injuring your shoulder. If you are unable to brace yourself and fall on your side, this can also force the bone out of place and lead to a dislocated shoulder.

Repetitive Movements

Activities or work that requires repetitive movement in your shoulders, like weight lifting or moving boxes, can lead to a shoulder dislocation. When you engage in repetitive movements, especially with heavy objects above your head, it can actually cause the shoulder blade to slowly wear down or damage the muscles in the joint. Too much stress on the shoulder joint can cause the bone to slip out of the actual joint, leaving you in pain with a shoulder dislocation.

Types of Shoulder Dislocations

There are three types of shoulder dislocations and if left untreated they can cause nerve damage, muscle or ligament tears, and even chronic pain. The anterior shoulder dislocation is the most common type of shoulder dislocation and refers to when the arm bone is forced out of the socket in a forward motion toward the front of your body. This type of dislocation will generally look like your arm might be out of place and farther forward than the other arm. It may also look like there is a bulge or lump on the front of your shoulder where the bone has slipped out of place. The posterior and inferior shoulder dislocations are less common.

Regardless of which type of shoulder dislocation you experience, the team of highly trained and experienced orthopedic doctors and chiropractors at AICA Orthopedics in Snellville can help diagnose and treat your shoulder injury.

Diagnostics

X-Ray

Dislocations will obviously necessitate the running of various types of diagnostic tests such as x-rays, which will show the physical damage that’s been done by the injury. They can help your specialist visualize where your joint has experienced movement.

LEARN MORE
MRI

MRI’s can also be very helpful in the evaluation of a dislocation injury. They similarly show a picture of the inside of the body, but they specialize in giving an image of the soft tissue through the use of magnetic fields.

LEARN MORE

Diagnosing a Shoulder Dislocation

If you experience a shoulder dislocation you should try to keep your arm and shoulder as still as possible and avoid “testing out” your range of motion. You should also never try to fix a dislocated shoulder on your own because it can cause serious damage to the tendons, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels in and around the shoulder socket.

A doctor is often able to recognize a shoulder dislocation on sight because your shoulder and arm may be at an odd angle or it may look like there is a strange bulge near the shoulder socket. An obvious sign of a shoulder dislocation is if you are unable to move your arm or shoulder or can only move it slightly and with extreme pain.

X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are types of diagnostic imaging tools that may be used to better visualize the shoulder joint and identify any bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and blood vessels. An X-ray will show your doctor how your bones and joints were affected by the injury and any associated breaks or fractures. An MRI will give a clear picture of how soft tissues and blood flow may be affected.

Treatment for a Dislocated Shoulder

The team of doctors at AICA Orthopedics develops treatment plans that are individualized to your specific injury, symptoms, and medical history. That way you can experience comprehensive care that will take into consideration any previous injuries that may be exacerbated by the stress of the shoulder dislocation and help you to prevent future shoulder injuries.

A doctor will use a gentle, firm maneuver called a reduction to reposition your shoulder bones back into their proper positions within the joint. Much of the pain you are in will subside once the joint is properly in place again. However, swelling is common near the site of the dislocation so your doctor may prescribe medication for pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend a sling or strap to help secure your arm in a safe position while the swelling goes down in the area before you begin to move the joint again.

In less common cases, a shoulder dislocation may require surgery. If you have had multiple dislocated shoulders in the past it can slowly wear down the parts of your joints and your muscles and tendons may be weak. Surgery may also be recommended if there is significant damage to any nearby nerves or blood vessels. AICA Orthopedics has a team of orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons who can assess a shoulder dislocation and recommend surgery only when necessary.

Physical therapy can help if rehabilitation is needed to restore your joint to its full range of motion again. Gentle stretches and exercises will help strengthen the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and back so they can better support the shoulder joint. Massage techniques and stretches can also help encourage healthy blood flow and oxygen to the area to encourage healing and recovery.