The shoulder ball and socket joints are the least stable joints in the body. The minimal depth of the socket portion of this joint allows for a larger range of motion – the only joint that can perform 360-degree rotations. While this range of motion is used to reach extended areas above the head, the glenoid or socket depth can allow the ball of the humerus to slip out of position, usually forward, but also backward or downward. This results in a partial or complete shoulder dislocation that can be painful and reduce mobility until treatment is performed for this type of shoulder injury.
Shoulder dislocations can happen suddenly during an athletic maneuver or accident. They can also occur from repeated overhead motions that allow the ball of the shoulder joint to slide out of the socket, eventually partially or completely dislocating from the glenoid. Symptoms include bruising, swelling, pain and instability in the shoulder joint. A physical examination and x-rays can confirm a dislocated shoulder.
Recovering from a Dislocated Shoulder
When a shoulder joint becomes dislocated, a closed reduction is performed to place the ball of the humerus back within the confines of the glenoid, or socket. Once it is in place, the shoulder should remain immobile to allow healing for several weeks. Ice and medications can be used for pain and inflammation, with physical therapy or exercises recommended after healing to restore strength and mobility.
In some cases, a dislocated shoulder will be accompanied by tendon or ligament damage or rotator cuff tears. These may also need treatment or surgery to help hold the shoulder joint in place and recover mobility.
If you believe you may have a dislocated shoulder, or you have been diagnosed with a shoulder dislocation, contact orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kerisimasi Reynolds in San Jose for treatment.