Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder

Shoulder dislocation is a common injury that usually results from a wide variety of sports. Generally when a shoulder is dislocated, the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone) is forced forwards when the arm is turned outwards and being held out to the side. This dislocation, known as an anterior dislocation, makes up approximately 95% of all shoulder dislocations.

Dislocated Shoulder

The other 5% of dislocations, posterior dislocations, inferior dislocations, superior dislocations, or intra thoracic dislocations, are rarer. These can also cause a large amount of complications and damage to surrounding structures such as muscles, tendons, or nerves. Posterior are the second most common type of dislocation with 3% or dislocations being posterior.

Because the shoulder has such a high mobility it is particularly prone to being dislocated. It is the most commonly dislocated joint, ahead of elbow, knee, finger and wrist dislocations. Shoulder dislocations can become a reoccurring problem, so some people choose to learn how to re-position the shoulder on their own. This is not recommended as it can cause more damage than fixed if the person is inexperienced.

Dislocated Shoulder Symptoms

  • Injury is usually acute, produced by direct or indirect trauma such as a fall
  • A sudden onset of severe pain
  • Shoulder feels like it has ‘popped out’
  • Shoulder will look noticeable different, usually loosing the smooth, rounded shape.
  • Patient feels the need to hold the arm close to their body to reduce movement
  • A ‘pin and needle’ feeling, numbness, or discoloration may occur is there is severe nerve or blood vessel damage

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