Did you know that your shoulder is the most mobile joint in your body? With this incredible range of motion comes vulnerability for shoulder instability and dislocation.
Typically, shoulder dislocation is an acute injury that results as a fall, car accident, or sports injury. However, in some cases, epileptic seizures and stroke can also cause a dislocated shoulder.
A dislocated shoulder should be treated right away. Swelling and pain will continue to increase until the joint is realigned. Realigning the joint is called reduction and should be done by a medical professional. Your orthopedic doctor will order an X-ray to assess the injury for broken bones or damage to the joint and will determine the best treatment.
The majority of these injuries are classified as simple dislocations. Once the joint has been realigned, pain and swelling will decrease rapidly and surgical repair is not needed. Treatment can be given at home with pain management, ice, immobilization of the shoulder, and physical therapy. In the case of severe dislocation or recurrent dislocations, surgery may be needed to repair bone damage or tighten ligaments in the joint.
You need to discuss with your orthopedic surgeon whether surgery is indicated for your problem or not. With young contact athletes with a dislocation, recurrent instability or dislocation is upwards of 90% if they go back to contact sports, so surgery is almost always indicated. Whereas older patients, who are not contact athletes, conservative treatment is a viable option. It is best to discuss with your doctor the best option for moving forward. Arthroscopic or open procedures can be used, and patients should work with their orthopedic surgeon to determine which option is right for them.
Rehabilitation is dependent on the severity of the injury. In many cases, patients can expect 3-12 weeks of recovery. Physical therapy and strengthening exercises are extremely important to regain full range of motion as well as to avoid future injury.
Dr. Kevin Kruse is a board-certified, fellowship-trained, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in North Texas. Dr. Kruse is committed to bringing the highest level of personalized orthopedic care, using advanced technology and biologics to treat shoulder injuries with optimal patient outcomes effectively.