What Is A Dislocated Shoulder? How Does It Feel Like?


A dislocated shoulder is when there’s an injury that causes the bone in the upper arm to pop out of its cup-shaped socket which is a part of the shoulder blade. Being the most mobile joint, the shoulder is highly susceptible to dislocation and other such injuries.

Shoulder dislocation often leads to numbness, weakness or tingling near the area of the injury including the neck and lower arm. In some cases, a dislocated shoulder can cause excruciating pain which may increase with spasms.

Shoulder Dislocation Types

Shoulder dislocations are categorized into three major types:

  • Anterior Shoulder Dislocation: This is, perhaps, the most common type of shoulder dislocation. In this, the humerus bone (head of the arm bone) moves forward, in front of the socket (glenoid). It is often managed with closed reduction and about 6 weeks of immobilization, followed by physical therapy. 
  • Posterior Shoulder Dislocation: Posterior shoulder dislocation is often caused by seizures or electrical shock. It is a very rare type of shoulder dislocation. However, in this, the humerus is pushed behind and above the socket. Treatment of this condition depends on the severity of the condition. Often non-operative treatment measures can be enough to treat the condition.
  • Inferior Shoulder Dislocation: Inferior shoulder dislocation is when the humerus is pushed down and out of the socket, often down towards the armpit. It is the rarest form of shoulder dislocation.

One must seek immediate medical assistance in case of any shoulder dislocation. It must be prompt, especially if the injury is caused by a severe blow or if the injured patient’s pulse gets too weak and the arm and hand go numb cold, pale or blue.

Dislocated Shoulder Symptoms & Risks

Following are some of the most common symptoms of shoulder dislocation:

  • Visibly deformed shoulder
  • Immobilized shoulder joints
  • Excruciating shoulder pain
  • Swelling and bruises around the shoulder or upper arm
  • Numbness and/or weakness in the arm, neck, hand, or fingers
  • Difficulty moving the arm
  • Muscle spasms in the shoulder

Shoulder dislocation can happen to anyone at any age. However, they are extremely common in individuals who are involved in extreme sports and physical activities. Older individuals with balance issues are also at greater risk as they are more likely to fall and injure themselves.

Causes Of Shoulder Dislocation

Some of the major causes of shoulder dislocation include the following:

  • Extreme Sports: Shoulder dislocation is very common in individuals who are into extreme sports such as football, hockey, basketball, skiing, gymnastics, volleyball, etc.
  • Physical Trauma: Accident or other physical trauma can also result in shoulder dislocation.
  • Falling: Falling from a height or tripping from stairs or ladders can result in shoulder dislocation that can cause extreme pain and discomfort.

Diagnosis Of Shoulder Dislocation

Diagnosing shoulder dislocations are made easy with modern technology that not only provides a highly accurate and precise diagnosis but also gives the results in a shorter span of time.

Some of the most common diagnostic methods for diagnosing shoulder dislocation are imaging tests such as x-rays, CT scans (Computed tomography scans) and MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging scans).

When To See A Doctor?

You must seek medical assistance if you’ve fallen or suffered a blow and have been experiencing shoulder pain or numbness in the shoulder; when you can see that the shape of your shoulder is not right; or when you experience extreme pain while moving your arm.

Dislocated Shoulder Treatment

Shoulder dislocation can be treated. Some of the most common treatment procedures for treating shoulder dislocations include the following:

  • Closed Reduction: In this treatment method, the doctor will move your shoulder around, in a certain way, to try and put it back in place. You will also be given some painkillers to soothe the pain and discomfort a little.
  • Surgery: Surgery is often recommended in extreme cases, especially when you have a weak shoulder joint or have had a shoulder dislocation in the past.
  • Immobilization: You may have to use a splint or a sling to keep your shoulder still for a few days or weeks depending on the severity of the injury.
  • Rehabilitation: Physical therapy is a crucial post-treatment procedure that will help your shoulder get back to normal.
  • Medications: You will be prescribed certain medications that will help you relieve the pain and speed up your recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the fastest way to heal a dislocated shoulder?

Resting the shoulder, applying ice and then heat, taking medications and pain relievers timely, and maintaining the range of motion of the shoulder are a few steps that can be taken post-treatment to speed up the healing process.

How painful is a dislocated shoulder?

A dislocated shoulder can be extremely painful and make it difficult to move the arms around. Swelling, bruises, numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms are often accompanied by a dislocated shoulder.

What should you do if you dislocate your shoulder?

You should immediately seek medical assistance if you think you have dislocated your shoulder.

Don’t try treating it yourself, it can lead to further complications. Avoid moving your arms if they’re causing excruciating pain.

Can a dislocated shoulder fix itself?

Some degree of medical assistance is required to treat a dislocated shoulder. It cannot treat itself.

Latest Blogs

Critical Care Services scaled
Different Medical Conditions Covered in Critical Care Services
Hemiplegia scaled
Hemiplegia: Causes and Treatments for Partial Paralysis

Popular Blogs

CTVs surgery
What is CTVs Surgery? Treatment, Cost & More
Sinus Infection
Sinusitis (Sinus Infection): Symptoms, Treatment & More
Covid Vaccine
Can TB Patients Take COVID Vaccine?