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A dislocated shoulder is an injury in the shoulder joint, which is the most mobile joint present in the body. A dislocated shoulder injury occurs when the upper arm bone juts out of the socket in your shoulder blade. The shoulder is capable of moving in several directions, so a shoulder dislocation can happen through either the front of your shoulder or the back of your shoulder, although most dislocations happen through the front of the shoulder.
Shoulder Dislocation Causes
Shoulder dislocations generally happen in situations involving extreme impact to the shoulders. The most common causes of dislocated shoulders include:
- Sports injuries: Over 75% of dislocated shoulder injuries are a result of injuries sustained from sports or sports related activities. Contact sports, such as hockey and football, which require a lot of close ranged contact, as well as sports like gymnastics and skiing often cause a lot of dislocated shoulder injuries.
- Injuries not related to sports/accidents: Hard blows to your shoulder, such as a result of a vehicle accident could be a very common reason behind shoulder dislocations.
- Sudden fall: Any sudden impact to your shoulder which puts a lot of strain on the shoulder blade, such as falling down a ladder, or tripping on a wet surface, may also lead to shoulder dislocation injuries.
Shoulder Dislocation Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of a shoulder dislocation injury include:
- Extreme shoulder pain: Severe pain in the shoulder joint along with an inability to freely move the shoulder is a sure-fire symptom of a dislocated shoulder.
- Visible deformation: If the shoulder joint looks contorted, twisted, or grossly out of shape, it is quite certain that the shoulder has been dislocated.
- Soft and raw to the touch: When touched from the side, if the shoulder feels extremely mushy and you cannot feel the bone underlying it, a shoulder dislocation injury is definitely the reason behind it.
- Numbness and weakness: A numb feeling not only in the shoulder, but all throughout the affected upper arm is usually a sign that the shoulder has been dislocated.
- Swelling/bruising: This doesn’t always occur, especially if the dislocation is a minor one; however, severe swelling and bruising of the shoulder, especially if you have recently suffered a huge impact to it, is a guaranteed sign of a dislocated shoulder. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an orthopedist.
A number of different treatments can be used to treat frozen shoulder, although it is uncertain how effective they are and which is best.
The treatments described below can help reduce shoulder pain and keep the joint mobile while the shoulder heals.
Early stage treatments
The first stage of a frozen shoulder is the most painful. Therefore, treatment is mainly focused on relieving the pain.
During this stage, your GP may recommend avoiding movements that make the pain worse, such as stretching. However, you should not stop moving altogether.
If you are in pain, you may be prescribed painkillers, such as paracetamol, a combination of paracetamol and codeine or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Some painkillers, such as paracetamol andibuprofen, are also available from pharmacies without a prescription. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure you are taking the correct dose.
Taking painkillers, particularly NSAIDs, in the long term can increase your risk of side effects. See the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication for more information.
Later stage treatments
After the initial painful stage, stiffness is the main symptom of a frozen shoulder. Your GP may suggest stretching exercises, and you may also be referred to a physiotherapist.
If you have a frozen shoulder, it's important to keep your shoulder joint mobile with regular, gentle stretching exercises. Not using your shoulder could make the stiffness worse, so you should continue to use it as normal.
However, if your shoulder is very stiff, exercise may be painful. Your GP or physiotherapist can give you some simple exercises to do every day at home that won't damage your shoulder any more.
A physiotherapist can use a number of techniques to keep the movement and flexibility in your shoulder. If you are referred to one, you may have treatments including:
stretching exercises that use specific techniques to move the joint in all directionsmassagethermotherapy, with warm or cold temperature packs
There is no clinical evidence to show that other treatments, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), IFT and lazer are effective in treating frozen shoulder.