You heard the pop, and now you’re worried. You also feel a sharp pain at your shoulder and notice an unusual looking deformity. What can you do about a dislocated shoulder?
The shoulder joint, being the most mobile joint in the human body in one of the shallowest sockets, is less stable than many other joints. In fact, research shows that shoulder dislocations make up half of all major joint dislocations. Some people even suffer more than one shoulder dislocation in their lifetime. While you may have heard a dislocated shoulder can be popped into place, it doesn’t mean they are “no big deal.” A dislocated shoulder should always be evaluated and treated by a medical professional. Even if you are able to pop your arm back into the shoulder socket successfully, seeing a doctor is in your best interest.
A dislocated shoulder happens when the head of the arm bone pops out of its socket of the shoulder blade, and the dislocation may be partial or complete. Most often, they occur when the arm is hit while stretched, such as throwing a baseball pitch or reaching for something. A strong blow can also dislocate the shoulder, like in a forceful car collision or falling on an outstretched arm. Athletes may also experience a dislocated shoulder during a contact sport.
What You Should Do After Shoulder Dislocation
If you think you’ve dislocated your shoulder, you should seek medical attention. If you can’t get to the doctor right away, avoid moving the shoulder or forcing it back into place. Keep ice on the affected joint for 10 minutes at a time to reduce pain, swelling, and control and internal bleeding and fluid buildup.
Do not try to force your arm back into the shoulder socket yourself. It’s important to get tested to find out if you’ve sustained nerve damage or if you have any other accompanying injuries. Your shoulder will be X-rayed to ensure you haven’t broken a bone. It’s fairly common to break the top of the humerus (arm bone) when you dislocate a shoulder, especially for older adults who have weaker bones. An ultrasound scan can reveal if you have torn your rotator cuff, which is the tissue band stretching over the top of the shoulder. Rotator cuff tears seen with a dislocated shoulder are also more likely in older adults.
Your doctor will gently manipulate your arm back into its shoulder joint through a reduction procedure. It can take a few minutes for your doctor to rotate your arm to get it back into the shoulder joint. Once the joint is back in place, some patients need further tests to check to see if the bone is in the correct position.
How Can I Tell if My Shoulder Is Dislocated?
When you dislocate your shoulder, the arm bone becomes displaced out of the shoulder socket. It should be obvious there is a problem. Often, the shoulder suddenly looks square rather than round, and you cannot move the affected arm without severe pain. Almost 95% of incidences of a dislocated shoulder result in the arm popping out in the front rather than the back. It takes about 12 to 16 weeks for a dislocated shoulder to heal after it has been reconnected.
Contact QualCare Rehabilitation and Allied Medical Centers for an Appointment: (713) 588-0042
While you may think it’s easy to pop a dislocated shoulder back into place and get back to your regularly scheduled life, the problem may be more complex than you had anticipated. Your doctor can determine the extent of your injuries and properly pop your arm back into the shoulder socket to prevent further pain and aggravation of the joint.
Contact us at QualCare Rehabilitation and Allied Medical Centers by dialing (713) 588-0042.