Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocations may either occur as a result of trauma or from an intrinsic loss of ligament support. A true dislocation involves the humeral head (the ball) coming out of the glenoid of the scapula (the socket), and staying out. If the shoulder moves out briefly but relocates on its own, this is known as a subluxation. The shoulder is the most commonly dislocated joint in the body. Most shoulder dislocations occur in a forwards (anterior) direction.

Patients with a previous shoulder dislocation are more prone to further dislocation. This comes about from the tissues being stretched and not healing properly, therefore the shoulder becomes looser than normal. If you are under the age of 20 and sustain a shoulder dislocation you have a higher risk of recurrent dislocation. This may lead to a condition known as shoulder instability.

Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder

The signs and symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include:

  • intense pain
  • the inability to move the shoulder
  • a loss of sensation in the arm
  • marked weakness in the arm
  • a history of trauma or previous dislocation
  • the shoulder does not 'look right'
The shoulder is normally relocated with the use of pain medication and should only be done by a trained health professional otherwise there is a change of damaging the shoulder further. Other structures such as your rotator cuff, or the labrum of the shoulder can be damaged with shoulder dislocation. It is important to get the shoulder x-rayed to rule out bony damage to the shoulder and a sling is normally worn to support the shoulder for the first 7-10 days.

Dislocated Shoulders and Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is an important part of rehabilitation following a shoulder dislocation. It is critical that good muscle strength is regained in the shoulder complex otherwise there is a higher chance of further dislocation. Your physio will prescribe a rehabilitation programme following an assessment of your strength and shoulder motor patterns.

How to Tape a Shoulder

This video demonstrates an easy and effective way of providing some support to an unstable shoulder. The technique incorporates a simple shoulder taping along with further taping support for the overhead athlete. Remember that all taping supplies are available at Roslyn Physio.


    Roslyn Physio 287 Highgate Roslyn, Dunedin 9010
  • P: 03 477 1744
  • F: 03 471 8598
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