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What is dislocated shoulder?

A dislocated shoulder is when the upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket that is a part of the shoulder blade. You can have a partial dislocation where the head of the upper arm bone is only partially out of the socket or a complete dislocation which means it is all the way out of the socket. Both cause a lot of pain as well as unsteadiness in the shoulder.

Possible Causes: 

A dislocated shoulder is caused by a fall, onto an outstretched arm, twisting or hitting the shoulder. When the head of the humerus pops out of the shoulder joint, your shoulder gets dislocated. It can be extremely painful.

You may suffer injuries in contact sports such as football and hockey, or in sports where you’re likely to fall, such as skiing, gymnastics and volleyball. In case of a motor vehicle accident, your shoulder may be impacted or dislocated.

Risk Factors: 

Anyone who is physically very active especially males in their teens or 20s are at a high risk of shoulder dislocation.

Signs & Symptoms: 

Dislocated shoulder symptoms are:

  • Sudden intense pain along with swelling and bruising. A visibly deformed or out-of-place shoulder.
  • Unable to move the joint.
  • This condition is very painful and associated with a significant loss of movement and function.
  • Numbness or discolouration.
  • In case of shoulder dislocation or severe pain, you must seek immediate medical attention.


At Medcare, during the physical examination, the specialist will promptly check your shoulder for tenderness, deformity, swelling and nerve and vascular status of your arm.
X-ray of your shoulder is usually sufficient alone to diagnose the dislocation and any other damage to your shoulder joint. Further imaging tests like CT scan, MRI and ultrasound scans may be advised.

Treatment Options: 

If you suspect that you have dislocated your shoulder, visit Medcare immediately for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of further damage.

The first aim of dislocated shoulder treatment is to protect it and prevent further damage, followed by medical attention at the earliest.

  • Applying an ice pack on the area and carrying out a reduction is the first step. Reduction is the term used to describe popping the dislocated joint back into position. Other injuries, fractures and damage to the shoulder joint may call for reduction either surgically or manually. 
  • Our doctor might prescribe a pain reliever or a muscle relaxant.
  • Immobilisation of the arm with the help of a sling or splint while your shoulder heals.
  • After the period of initial immobilisation, physiotherapy will bring strength and stability and enable dislocated shoulder recovery.

If there has been widespread damage to muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels or the labrum, surgery may be necessary.

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الأسئلة الشائعة:


  • What is the correct dislocated shoulder treatment at home?

    A: Immediately place an ice pack on your shoulder to reduce inflammation and pain. You may take some over the counter pain relievers with small amount of water. Seek medical attention.

    Once you have shoulder reduced, follow your doctor and physiotherapist’s advice rigorously. Try to avoid painful movements like heavy lifting or overhead activity until your shoulder feels better. Once you feel better, start on shoulder exercises as inactivity can cause stiff joints.

  • I have had a shoulder dislocation once. Is this likely to happen again?

    A: Yes, once you’ve dislocated your shoulder, the chances of you suffering a dislocation again are quite high especially if you are young. Ask your doctor to recommend exercises that will build the strength and flexibility of your shoulder. Avoid shoulder positions that led to the dislocation.

  • I’m a football player and have dislocated my shoulder. When will I be able to start playing again?

    A: Sportspeople who dislocate their shoulder for the first time can usually resume sports within about six to eight weeks. Of course, you should have recovered the full range of shoulder motion and strength. In the future, if you have this problem again and you need to undergo surgery, then you may require some months of rehabilitation before you are able to play football again.

  • Is a dislocated shoulder serious?

    A: Yes, a dislocated shoulder is a very serious injury, and if untreated well, it can end up with future dislocations and further shoulder structural damage.

    Some shoulder dislocations can be associated with bone fractures, nerve damage or muscle and tendons tears.

    Remember that only a trained medical professional can accurately relocate your shoulder back and pic up any associated serious injuries.

    This makes it essential to see a doctor at the earliest if you have any shoulder trauma with intense pain, swelling, deformity, loss of movement, all of which could indicate a dislocated shoulder. 

    Want to get your shoulder checked? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today

  • Can a dislocated shoulder heal on its own?

    A: A dislocated shoulder cannot heal without medical help, but healing without surgery is possible. However, it requires wearing a sling for a couple of weeks and undergoing regular physiotherapy. This treatment, however, works only on minor shoulder dislocations. 

    On the other hand, surgery is the ideal course of treatment for a dislocated shoulder in certain, cases like young active patients, if associated with fracture or if associated with tendon tears.

    Most of the cases can be managed by the key hole (arthroscopic) surgery with fast recovery and back to sport in couple of months.

    Fear you may have a dislocated shoulder? Don't take a risk; book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • How do you tell if you dislocated your shoulder?

    A: A dislocated shoulder tends to be painful, deformation and inability to freely move the joint. And all of this is following a trauma, mostly fall on outstretched hand or direct trauma.

    If you suspect you have a shoulder dislocation, refrain from moving the joint and seek medical help immediately.

    Think you have the symptoms of a dislocated shoulder? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • What happens if a dislocated shoulder goes untreated?

    A: If you do not treat a dislocated shoulder, it could cause instability and persistent pain. The structures that support your shoulder joint start becoming loose, which can cause the joint to pop in and out with simple activity, and so preventing you from practicing sports.

    If not treated, the socket and the head can get damage and bone loss in the long term which may also lead to arthritis. 

    Want to treat your dislocated shoulder? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • What surgery is done for a dislocated shoulder?

    A: Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is performed on a dislocated shoulder to repair the torn or stretched cartilage and ligaments.

    Arthroscopic surgery is performed with a pencil-sized instrument known as an arthroscope, which is inserted into the joint through key hole incision. 

    A camera and a light at one end send a live video feed from the inside of the shoulder to the monitor, providing a clear view of the interior of the joint. This allows the surgeon to see tiny details in the bones, ligaments, and tendons. 

    Using this video as a guide, the surgeon repositions the torn ligament or tendon to the bone and fixes the dislocated shoulder, through another key hole incision.

    Need surgery for your dislocated shoulder? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

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