A shoulder dislocation occurs when an injury causes the ligaments in the shoulder to separate and the upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket. Since the shoulder has such high mobility, shoulder dislocations can be a common occurrence. Emergency treatment is required for shoulder dislocations.
Intense pain is likely to be the first symptom noticed during a shoulder dislocation. Patients can often feel the shoulder as it pops out of the socket. The majority of shoulder dislocations occur from falls with the arms outstretched or a direct impact to the shoulder. If the patient has pain in other areas caused by the injury, he or she may not initially realize shoulder dislocation has occurred. Along with pain, patients may feel weakness and numbness in the area surrounding the shoulder blade.
Change in Appearance
Aside from the pain, a shoulder dislocation causes bruising and swelling to appear at the site of the injury. When a shoulder is dislocated, an evident deformity can often be seen with the bone sticking out prominently from the skin. The deformity varies based on the direction that the dislocation has occurred. The three types of dislocation include:
For an anterior dislocation, the upper arm bone pushes forward. The posterior dislocation means the bone goes toward the back. An inferior shoulder dislocation means the bone has moved downwards. Most shoulder dislocations are anterior while only a small percentage are posterior and inferior dislocations.
Never attempt to treat a dislocated shoulder at home. Self-treatment could inadvertently worsen the injury. Contact a physician to confirm shoulder dislocation and review treatment options available. Treatment options may include shoulder relocation, slings and orthopedic surgery.