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Shoulder Dislocations

Publish Date
November 8, 2021

The shoulder joint is called a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is the rounded top of the bone in the upper arm (humerus), which fits into the socket— the cup-shaped outer part of the shoulder blade.  A dislocated shoulder occurs when the top of the humerus moves out of its usual location in the shoulder joint. A related injury called a shoulder subluxation occurs when the top of the humerus is only partially displaced and not totally out of its socket.


Three Types of Dislocations:


∙ Anterior Dislocation— The top of the humerus is displaced forward toward the front of the body. Anterior dislocation is the most common type of shoulder dislocation, accounting for more than 95% of cases. In young people, the cause is typically sports-related. In older people, it usually is caused by a fall on an outstretched arm.

∙ Posterior Dislocation— Posterior dislocations account for two to four percent of all shoulder dislocations and are the type most likely to be related to seizures and electric shock. This dislocation occurs when the top of the humerus is toward the back of the body— a significant displacement.

∙ Inferior Dislocation— The top of the humerus is displaced downward. This type of shoulder dislocation is the rarest, occurring in only one out of every 200 cases. An inferior dislocation occurs by various types of trauma in which the arm pushes downward violently.




∙ severe shoulder pain

∙ limited motion of the shoulder

∙ hard knob under the skin near the shoulder

∙ shoulder bruising or abrasions if an impact has caused your injury




∙ You can usually go home the same day once your shoulder is back in place.

∙ You will need to rest your arm in a sling for a few days while the pain settles.

∙ May experience a lot of pain immediately afterward and can take painkillers to relieve this.

∙ Your doctor may refer you for physical therapy to rehabilitate and strengthen your shoulder.

∙ A dislocated shoulder takes between 12 and 16 weeks to heal once it is properly back in its correct position.

∙ You should avoid playing rugby and other physical activities until you have regained a full range of movement and strength in your shoulder joint.


Why should you come to Comprehensive Physical Therapy after a shoulder dislocation?


∙ Strong shoulder muscles are the best defense against shoulder dislocation. We recommend that you participate in exercises that build up your shoulder muscles and your core stability and posture. Adequate warm-up before activity will also help prevent shoulder dislocation injuries.


Call Comprehensive Physical Therapy today at (985) 985-869-7221 or visit our website at www.cptnola.com and schedule your personalized evaluation with one of our physical therapists. We will teach you how to strengthen your shoulder and surrounding muscles to prevent (another) shoulder dislocation from occurring.

By Dr. Billy Beaudreau, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, FAAOMPT


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