A shoulder dislocation can happen unexpectedly, in seconds, especially during sports. Knowing what to do the moment you dislocate your shoulder can help you avoid more injuries or complications.

Your shoulder has the largest range of motion of any joint in your body due to its ball-and-socket mechanism. The socket, the shallow, cup-shaped part of your shoulder blade, allows the ball to move freely upward, downward, forward, backward, and outward. The “ball” of the joint is the head of the humerus, your upper arm bone.

Although the joint mobility that comes with a ball-and-socket setup is great for throwing, reaching, and other arm movements you use every day, the extra mobility also increases the risk of joint dislocation. Shoulder dislocations account for roughly half of all joint dislocations.

At North Point Orthopaedics in Munster and Crown Point, Indiana, our team of orthopedic experts can diagnose your dislocated shoulder and any accompanying injuries like tendon tears or nerve damage. With our sports medicine and shoulder services, we specialize in advanced treatment for shoulder pain and injuries so you can recover and strengthen the joint.

Recognizing a dislocated shoulder

When the ball of your shoulder joint pops out of its resting place in the socket, tendons and ligaments supporting the joint can overstretch or tear. Nerves in the area can also be compressed, causing immediate numbness or weakness. Shoulder dislocations tend to be sharply painful, too.

Some signs of a dislocated shoulder are:

  • A visible deformity of the joint
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Inability to move your shoulder
  • Numbness or tingling in your neck
  • Numbness or tingling in your arm
  • Muscle spasms

Shoulder dislocations often happen after an impact, such as might happen during contact sports. You  might also dislocate your shoulder in a motor vehicle accident or after falling and landing on your arm.

What to do in the moment

The actions you take immediately after a shoulder dislocation can be critical for setting the stage for proper healing. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible, but to manage the injury in the moment, avoid moving the shoulder or trying to force it back into place. As easy as it might seem to do so, trying to move the injured joint or fix the injury on your own could result in more tissue damage around the joint.

The first aid you should give to a suspected dislocation is ice and immobilization. Icing the injured joint until you get medical care can alleviate pain and swelling. Using a makeshift splint or sling stabilizes the joint and supports the loose tendons and ligaments.

Visit our office for treatment and rehabilitation

Our experts at North Point Orthopaedics can pick up where emergency care leaves off so you can heal properly from your shoulder dislocation and rehabilitate the joint. Joint dislocation care can involve multiple strategies short of surgery, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Regenerative therapies like platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
  • Splints and slings

Call us today or schedule an appointment online for sports medicine and orthopedic care.

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