Your shoulder joints are the most flexible joints in the body. Unfortunately, they are also unstable because of their anatomy. The ball of the upper arm in the shoulder joint is larger than the socket holding it. Your shoulder is a unique joint is composed of three different bones: 

  • the clavicle (collarbone)
  • the scapula (shoulder blade)
  • and the humerus (upper arm bone). 

To make the shoulder stable, it is anchored by tissues, tendons, and ligaments. The shallow socket provides amazing versatility and an unparalleled range of motion to your shoulder than any other joint in your body.

Shoulder Dislocation & its facts

A shoulder dislocation is an injury where your upper arm bone protrudes out of your socket, a part of your shoulder blade.

  • Shoulder joints are the most displaced joints in your body.
  • Around 25% of dislocated shoulders are associated with fractures.
  • Most of the shoulder dislocations are treated without any surgery. 
  • A sling is used Immobilize the joint to reduce the risk of repetitive dislocation.
  • A shoulder dislocation might be complete or partial. 
  • People of age group between 16 to 25 are more vulnerable to shoulder dislocations 
  • Shoulder dislocations are more common in men compared to women.
  • Recurrent shoulder dislocations might require surgery to fix them and tighten torn tissues.
  • Uncomplicated recovery and healing may restore the lost functions in 12-16 weeks.

The fibrous tissue that connects the bones in your shoulder might be stretched or torn during dislocation and makes the dislocation complicated.

Causes of shoulder dislocation

A stronger force in the form of a sudden blow to your shoulder can pull out the shoulder bones out of place. Rotating your shoulder joint other than its range of motion can pop the ball out of your shoulder socket. A partial dislocation may also occur, i.e., your top arm bone will partially in and out of the shoulder socket.

  • Traumatic injuries that may happen in car accidents, sports injuries or a fall can lead to shoulder dislocation.
  • Overuse of the shoulder bone/repetitive strain in people who play sports like tennis, golf, cricket, volleyball, etc.
  • If the connective tissues in your shoulder joint that maintains the upper arm bone head in socket become loose due to injury or overuse, or due to any previous shoulder injury or dislocations
  • Multidirectional instability – this is a genetic susceptibility condition that makes your shoulder joint unstable. People with this condition have loose ligaments often called “double-jointed.” 

Your shoulder can dislocate in several directions because it moves in multiple indirections. It can dislocate in forward (anterior) direction, backward (posterior) direction, or downwards (inferior) completely or partially. 

Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder

  • The primary sign of a dislocated shoulder is severe pain.
  • You may feel it very difficult to move your affected arm even a little bit.
  • If you touch your shoulder from the side, it feels soft, as if the bone is gone, and often there is a physical deformity.
  • You may feel your shoulder is loose and hear pops or clicks.
  • Numb feeling, tingling sensation, and weakness might occur in the affected upper arm.
  • In it cause acute injury, the affected area swells or bruises
  • Inability to move your joint

The dislocated shoulder also results in muscle spasms, and the uncontrollable movements increase your pain. 

Treatment for shoulder dislocation

The treatment of a dislocated shoulder depends on various factors like dislocated type, severity, bone or ligament damage, etc.; after running some diagnostic tests, the doctor understands the condition, and your treatment will begin. The treatment options include:

Closed reduction

Here the doctor pushes your shoulder back into its position. You will be sedated mildly, or a muscle relaxant is given to reduce any discomfort. As soon as your shoulder bones are relocated into its place, intense pain should subside almost immediately.


After resetting your shoulder, the shoulder specialist might use a splint or sling to prevent the shoulder from moving until it heals. You may need to wear the splint or sling for a few days to three weeks based on the nature of your shoulder dislocation.


You may require medication to ease the pain while the shoulder heals and regain strength. Medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen are given. Ice packs also help with the pain and swelling.


In severe shoulder dislocation cases, surgery might be necessary. This approach is preferred if other treatment options have failed or in the case of extensive damage to the shoulder bones or blood vessels and muscles surrounding the shoulder. However, a dislocation associated with a vascular injury to a major vein or artery is rare. If it happens, it requires urgent surgery. 

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