How to Tell if Your Shoulder is Dislocated

How to Tell if Your Shoulder is Dislocated

Your shoulders are a vital part of your body, as they allow you to move your arms freely. However, the extreme flexibility of your shoulders puts them at increased risk of injury, especially dislocations. Shoulder dislocations cause a lot of damage to surrounding tissues, so it’s important to know if that’s what’s causing your shoulder pain.

At Bay Oaks Orthopaedics, located in Houston, Texas, our team gets you the fast and efficient care you need when your shoulder hurts. Dr. Anthony Melillo is our expertly trained orthopedic specialist, who offers immediate treatment when you’ve dislocated your shoulder.

What is a dislocated shoulder?

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, meaning the upper arm inserts into the socket of the shoulder blade. This allows the shoulder to move in all directions. The ball part of the joint is held in place by muscles and tendons, specifically, your rotator cuff.

A shoulder dislocation occurs when the ball, or humeral head, pops out of the socket in your shoulder blade. It can either be a partial or full dislocation, but both types cause pain and shoulder instability.

When your shoulder becomes dislocated, the surrounding tissues are also usually damaged. This includes your rotator cuff and other important ligaments and tendons around your joint. Because your shoulder joint is the most flexible in your body, it’s at highest risk of dislocation compared to other joints.

Shoulder dislocations often occur from direct trauma to your shoulder. That could happen from a significant fall, a sports injury, or a car accident. 

Signs and symptoms of a dislocation

Both full and partial dislocations cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms. You’ll likely know if you dislocated your shoulder by the following signs:

If you’ve suffered an injury and are exhibiting any of these symptoms, you should seek help from Dr. Melillo right away. An untreated dislocation causes more damage around the joint.

What to do if you suspect a shoulder dislocation

Immediately after an injury to your shoulder, there’s a few things that are important to do right away. If you suspect a dislocation, make sure to take the following precautions:

Don’t try to pop it back in place

Never try to put your shoulder back into place yourself. There are many tissues surrounding the joint that may already be damaged. If you attempt to force your shoulder back in, you’ll likely do a lot more harm than good.

Keep it close to your body

Keeping your shoulder close to your body prevents it from swinging around, due to the instability of the dislocation. If you have a makeshift sling, that also works to keep the arm and shoulder immobilized.

Apply ice 

Putting ice on your shoulder significantly helps with swelling and pain right after a dislocation. Be sure not to put the ice directly on your skin, and remove it after 20 minutes.

Take anti-inflammatory medications

If the pain is significant, taking over-the-counter pain medications helps to not only decrease your pain, but also helps with inflammation.

Seek treatment immediately

The most important step in a dislocated shoulder is to get immediate medical care. Not only does that help your pain, it also reduces the chances of more damage in your joint and surrounding tissues.

If you’re dealing with shoulder pain, don’t delay treatment. Call the office at 281-223-1391, or book an appointment using our online booking tool.

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