One of the most painful injuries the doctors of Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine treat is shoulder dislocation. This occurs when the ball of the upper arm bone pops out of the cuplike pocket of the shoulder blade. Though the ball and socket shoulder joint is well-designed to be the body’s most mobile joint, able to turn in various directions, its remarkable flexibility makes it vulnerable to dislocation. 

If you think you may be suffering from a shoulder dislocation now, or if you have been troubled by recurrent shoulder dislocations over a period of time, you should contact us as soon as possible. Our doctors are physiatrists whose specialty is relieving pain and restoring function. You can depend on us to provide you with a reliable diagnosis and the effective nonsurgical treatments we are known for.

Types of Shoulder Dislocations

Shoulder dislocations, also known as subluxations, can be partial or complete, but even partial dislocations result in pain and a feeling of unsteadiness or lack of support in the shoulder. The shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward, or downward. Typically, the shoulder slips forward, causing what is known as anterior instability. This occurs when the upper bone of the arm (the humerus) moves forward out of its socket as can happen when you throw a ball with great force.

It is important to be aware that once you have suffered a shoulder dislocation the joint may become unstable, in which case you are more likely to experience another dislocation. This is why it is advisable to engage in physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles in order to prevent further pain and damage.

Causes of Shoulder Dislocation

There are numerous causes of shoulder dislocation, including:

  • Sports injuries that involve physical contact, collision, or throwing such as football, hockey, and baseball, as well as sports in which falls are frequent, like skiing, gymnastics, and volleyball
  • Traffic accidents in which the shoulder receives a hard blow 
  • Accidental falls, whether due to a slippery surface, a broken stair or torn carpet, or imbalance at a height, in which the shoulder is impacted.
  • Direct trauma from being hit by a falling or thrown object or being directly assaulted
  • Lifting or swinging a young child, whose ligaments are still weak and loose, by the arms

Males in their teens or 20s, who tend to be physically active, and older women who are prone to falls, are at increased risk of suffering shoulder dislocations.

Symptoms of Shoulder Dislocation

If your shoulder has been dislocated, you will know you require immediate medical attention because you will experience several, if not all, of the following symptoms:

  • Intense pain
  • Visible deformity of your shoulder
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Inability to move the joint
  • Numbness, weakness, or tingling at the site, in your neck, or down the affected arm
  • Spasms of your shoulder muscles that further intensify your pain

While awaiting urgent medical care, don’t try to move the joint. Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling, and wear a sling to keep your shoulder supported.

Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine Doctors Are Sharp Diagnosticians

When we examine you, we will probably be able to diagnose the problem at once and perhaps, depending on the severity of your injury, be able to replace the bone into the socket immediately. If we are able to do this, the severity of your pain will instantly be alleviated. 

If we need further clarity about your possible dislocation or suspect further damage like a bone fracture, we may use one or more types of diagnostic testing, e.g. imaging tests like X-rays, MRI or CT scans or electromyography (EMG) tests to assess the health of the muscles and nerves surrounding your shoulder.

Immediate Care of a Shoulder Dislocation

The first thing that has to happen when you have dislocated your shoulder is to have the ball put back into the socket. Because the pain of this injury is so intense, and because accidents rarely happen at convenient times, it is possible that this step, known as a closed reduction, will take place in an emergency room or at an urgent care center. Depending on particular circumstances, this may have to be done while you are under a local (or, rarely, a general) anesthetic.

Complications of Shoulder Dislocations 

Sometimes a shoulder dislocation is not an isolated injury and may involve torn muscles, ligaments or tendons, or nerve or blood vessel damage in the region. Depending on the severity of such complications, surgery may be necessary. If this is the case, you can be sure our doctors will refer you to well-respected surgical colleagues with whom we work closely. We will coordinate efforts with the surgeon to work with you after your operation to help you heal as quickly as possible.

We Offer a Number of Treatments to Speed Healing from a Shoulder Dislocation

Once you come to our office, whether your shoulder dislocation has just happened or you are recovering from a surgical procedure, we are well-equipped to offer you a variety of treatments that will hasten healing, including:

It should be noted that while medically supervised physical therapy is a valuable tool, resuming other strenuous physical activity too soon after a shoulder dislocation is unwise since it may cause further damage.

Shoulder Dislocation? Contact Our Pain and Rehabilitation Experts Today

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we are well-prepared to treat all types of shoulder pain, including that caused by shoulder dislocation. If you are experiencing ongoing pain, weakness or restricted range of motion, make an appointment with our highly trained, experienced physiatrists to find out what we can do to help. Remember: we are always focused on making you feel better.