The shoulder joint is your body’s most mobile joint. It can turn
in many directions, but this mobility also makes your shoulder joint easy
to dislocate. A partial dislocation (subluxation) means the head of the
upper arm bone (humerus) is partially out of the socket (glenoid). A complete
shoulder dislocation means it is completely out of the socket. Both partial
and complete dislocations cause pain and unsteadiness in your shoulder.
Your muscles may have spasms from the disruption, and this can make it
hurt more. When your shoulder dislocates time and again, you have shoulder
Causes of a Dislocated Shoulder
Your shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward or downward. A common
type of shoulder dislocation occurs when your shoulder slips forward (anterior
instability). This means your upper arm bone moved forward and down out
of its joint. It may happen when you put your arm in a throwing position.
Dislocated Shoulder Symptoms
Symptoms to look for include swelling, numbness, weakness and bruising.
Sometimes dislocation may tear ligaments or tendons in your shoulder.
Once in awhile, the dislocation may damage your nerves.
Dislocated Shoulder Treatment Options
Your doctor may immobilize your shoulder in a sling or other device for
several weeks following treatment. You should get plenty of rest and ice
the sore area 3-4 times a day. After the pain and swelling go down, your
doctor will prescribe rehabilitation exercises for you. These help restore
your shoulder’s range of motion and strengthen your muscles. Rehab
may also help you prevent dislocating your shoulder again in the future.
You begin by doing gentle muscle toning exercises. Later, you can work
up to using weights. If your shoulder dislocation becomes a chronic condition,
a brace can sometimes help. However, if therapy and bracing fail, then
you may need surgery to repair or tighten torn or stretched ligaments,
which help hold the joint in place.