Shoulder dislocation is caused due to the displacement of the upper arm bone (humerus) from the shoulder blade (scapula) joint. This condition results from traumatic injuries, such as a fall, a direct blow to the shoulder, or intense arm twisting. Shoulder dislocations are common and affect people of all ages.

As a result, shoulder dislocation treatment is essential to prevent this injury that causes significant pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. Prevention is also crucial in avoiding shoulder dislocations. 

Regular exercise and strength training can help improve shoulder stability and reduce the likelihood of injuries. Additionally, taking precautions during physical activities, such as wearing appropriate protective gear, can help minimise the risk of shoulder dislocations. So, without further ado, let’s discuss the types of shoulder dislocations and how to treat them.

Types of Shoulder Dislocations

There are mainly three types of shoulder dislocations discussed in detail below:

  • Anterior Dislocation

This shoulder dislocation type is also known as the forward bend commonly. In this condition, the humerus arm bone shifts forward from its original position. The most common cause of anterior dislocation is arm extension.

  • Posterior Dislocation

This dislocation type is also commonly known as backward bend. In this condition, the humerus moves backwards and behind the arm socket. It is more common during an electrical shock and seizures. 

  • Inferior Dislocation

An inferior dislocation occurs when the head of the arm bone (humerus) is displaced downward and out of the shoulder socket. The exact cause of this type of dislocation is often unclear and can be attributed to various factors. However, it is the least frequently encountered type of dislocation.

Now that we know the types of shoulder dislocations. Let’s understand the causes of shoulder dislocations discussed in detail below.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Dislocation

There are various ways to diagnose shoulder dislocation. These are described below:

  • Symptoms 

Shoulder dislocation can be easily identified and diagnosed through its distinctive symptoms. These include abrupt and intense pain that cannot be ignored, accompanied by difficulty moving the affected arm or shoulder. 

The dislocated area may also appear visibly swollen or protruding. In some cases, patients may also report experiencing numbness or a tingling sensation.

  • Physical Examination

While physically examining a shoulder dislocation, the doctor can often feel the humerus or the arm moved out or displaced from the shoulder socket.

  • Imaging Tests

To confirm a shoulder dislocation diagnosis, the doctor often recommends an imaging test, such as an X-ray, MRI, or CT Scan. The imaging tests help them get a clearer idea of the type of dislocation.

Now, let’s discuss some treatment options for shoulder dislocations discussed in detail below.

Treatment Options

There are two types of treatment options: nonsurgical and surgical. The doctor recommends the best treatment course depending on the intensity and type of shoulder dislocation. Let’s first look at the non-surgical options.

Non-Surgical Options

There are various non-surgical treatment options for shoulder dislocations. Some shoulder dislocation treatments without surgery include

  • Closed Reduction

In closed reduction, the doctor or orthopaedic attempts to manually reposition a bone back into its proper place. In this case, the humerus bone is moved back into the shoulder joint. The success of this procedure depends on the injury’s severity and the practitioner’s skill.

  • Immobilisation

The doctor recommends braces or splints that help immobilise or reduce movement. It gives the muscles time to heal and repair themselves from the trauma caused due to shoulder dislocation.

  • Physical Therapy

This therapy helps the muscles gain strength and flexibility that shall help improve the overall activities of the shoulder. It also helps prevent the occurrence of shoulder dislocation.

Surgical Options

When dealing with severe cases, surgery is typically considered a final resort when dealing with severe cases as postoperative complications may arise, making it preferable to delay surgical intervention for as long as possible. The usual surgical treatments available for shoulder dislocations are arthroscopy and open reduction.

The treatment options are quite effective and help deal with various dislocations. However, knowing the recovery and rehabilitation process is essential to ensure proper treatment. So, let’s look at them below.

Recovery from Shoulder Dislocation

Providing ample time and care for optimum shoulder dislocation recovery is essential. Besides rest and time, it’s equally important to take the right precautions to avoid the recurrence of shoulder dislocation. The recovery process involves the following factors:

  • Rehabilitation

This stage involves tracing shoulder dislocation, including massage, physical therapy, rest, and compression. Commonly used therapy is hot and cold therapy, recommended by various orthopaedics.

  • Timeline for Recovery

In most cases, the recovery process from shoulder dislocation usually takes a few days. However, depending on the patient’s age, current medical conditions, and the intensity of the injury, it may take six to twelve weeks for the patient to heal completely.

There are various preventive measures that individuals can adopt to avoid further complications. Let’s look at them below.

Preventive Measures

Shoulder dislocation prevention involves various measures, including minimal activities to improve your overall lifestyle. Exercise and body maintenance can help greatly in the long run. Here are a few prevention measures that one must take-

  • Exercise and Stretching

Including shoulder stretching exercises in your daily routine is a great way to improve strength and muscle flexibility. Wall pushups, arm swings, and planks are also great ways to reduce the chances of recurrence of shoulder dislocation.

  • Avoiding High-Risk Activities

Certain activities can increase the risk of experiencing shoulder dislocation. These activities include sports that require repetitive overhead motions or contact, such as football or wrestling. 

Avoiding high-risk activities involving major hand movements, such as badminton, tennis, or volleyball, is important to prevent shoulder dislocations. If you participate in these activities, take precautions such as wearing protective gear, warming up properly, and using proper technique.

  • Bracing and Taping

Bracing and taping can help immobilise the shoulder joint and reduce muscle movements, preventing shoulder dislocations. Bracing involves wearing a supportive device stabilises the shoulder joint and restricts movement. 

Taping involves applying adhesive tape around the shoulder joint to support and restrict motion. Both bracing and taping can be effective prevention measures for shoulder dislocations, especially for people who have previously experienced shoulder dislocation.

Complications of Shoulder Dislocation

The complications of shoulder dislocation majorly depend on the duration of the injury. Early treatment can help in reducing complications. The following are the common complications of shoulder dislocation –

  • Recurrence of shoulder dislocation.
  • Nerve damage can be permanent or temporary.
  • Osteoarthritis affects muscle and bone density.


Timely treatment, appropriate care, and preventive measures can significantly minimise the complications associated with shoulder dislocation, thereby promoting overall bodily health. By detecting the condition early, you can avoid surgical interventions.

It is crucial to seek medical attention from an orthopaedic specialist as soon as symptoms of shoulder dislocation manifest. In the meantime, it is recommended to immobilise the affected shoulder and avoid any movements until a medical professional has evaluated the injury. Adequate rest and care are also crucial for promoting faster recovery.

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