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Orthopedic Surgery

A dislocated shoulder occurs when an individual’s arm pops out of its socket. Since a person’s arm is extremely mobile and flexible enough to move in many directions, this makes the shoulder one of the easiest joints to dislocate because the ball joint of the upper arm sits in a very shallow socket.

The recovery time for a dislocated shoulder after it has been placed back in place ranges from 12 to 16 weeks.

Causes of a Dislocated Shoulder

  • Falls: Shoulders can become dislocated if they land awkwardly following a fall, such as one caused by tripping.
  • Sports injuries: Shoulder dislocation is more prevalent in contact sports like hockey and football. It is also typical in sports like volleyball, gymnastics, and downhill skiing, where there could be falls.
  • Trauma: Such as a hard blow to the shoulder during a motor vehicle accident.

Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder

The following are some of the common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder:

  • Intense pain
  • A visibly deformed shoulder
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Inability to move the joint
  • Numbness
  • Tingling near the injury

When to See a Doctor for a Dislocated Shoulder

An individual should see the doctor immediately if his/her shoulder is dislocated from the joint. One should observe the following as he/she waits to see the doctor:

  • Not to move the shoulder or try to push it back as this may damage the shoulder and joint as well as the nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, and muscles in that area.
  • To splint or sling the shoulder in place to keep it from moving until one can see a doctor.

Diagnosis of a Dislocated Shoulder

During the diagnosis, the doctor will ask about:

  • Other symptoms the patient may be experiencing
  • How the injury occurred
  • How long the shoulder has been hurting
  • Whether this has ever occurred

In most cases, the doctor may recommend an X-ray to get more details of the patient’s injury. Any other damage to the shoulder joint or any shattered bones, which are common with dislocations, will be visible on an X-ray.

Treatment of a Dislocated Shoulder

Usually, an  X-ray is done to check whether the patient broke any bones and to confirm the dislocation. In case of a fracture, more scans will be recommended to investigate the area in more detail.

Reduction procedure

Reduction is a procedure that entails gently manipulating the patient’s arm back into its joint. The patient will be given painkillers as well as sedatives to help him/her relax.

Reduction is usually performed in the emergency room, but occasionally the orthopedic team will perform it in the operating room.

Repairing tears in the shoulder tissues

Since some people tear ligaments, tendons, and other tissues when they dislocate their shoulder, surgery may be necessary to repair them.

Shoulder surgery repair is done under general anesthesia. Keyhole surgery is frequently used, which includes small cuts (incisions) and an arthroscope, a narrow tube with a light, and a camera at one end.

Rehabilitation

Physical rehabilitation will help one increase his/her range of motion and regain strength with the aid of physical therapy. Rehabilitation is typically a guided exercise at a physical therapy center.

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